Lance Cpl. Ramon Kaipat, a 22-year-old Marine from Tacoma, was killed Wednesday in Afghanistan.

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Ramon Kaipat saw opportunity in the Marine Corps when his family moved to Tacoma from Saipan in the Western Pacific in 2004.

His cousin, Courtney Taisakan, recalled Lance Cpl. Kaipat inquiring about his own experiences in the Marines and that he dropped a lot of weight to meet the Corps’ rigorous physical standards.

Lance Cpl. Kaipat graduated from Mount Tahoma High School in 2007 and enlisted in 2008.

“He looked up to the Marines,” said Taisakan, who served from 2006 to 2010.

Lance Cpl. Kaipat, 22, died Wednesday in combat in the Helmand province of Afghanistan, the Department of Defense announced Thursday. He was a rifleman assigned to 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, Calif. It was his second combat deployment.

Taisakan, who lives with Lance Cpl. Kaipat’s parents in Tacoma, was awakened by a knock at the door early Wednesday.

“When I saw their uniforms through the peephole, I knew something was wrong,” he said, referring to the casualty-notification officers.

He said Lance Cpl. Kaipat loved music and spending time with his large family.”He had a serious side to him,” he said. “From a glance, you might not think he was very social. He was very open to his family, and he was a comedian. Very fun-loving, but he had that man-of-the-house training from his father.”

Lance Cpl. Kaipat’s aunt, Maria Taisakan, told the Saipan Tribune she heard the news as she was preparing to bury Lance Cpl. Kaipat’s great aunt on the island.

“Now, we are holding the rosary for two of our family members,” she said.

She added: “I miss his smile. Even if you scolded him, he’d smile and apologize.”

Lance Cpl. Kaipat is survived by his parents, Pete and Sinforosa Kaipat; a brother, Pedro; and a sister, Pearllita. They were on the East Coast on Thursday to escort his body home. Services are pending.