Maung P. Htaik came to the United States in 2002, and he died fighting for the country in Afghanistan on the first day of 2011.
"From my understanding from talking to him, I see that he was inspired by the Marines to be brave and strong," Dan Yar wrote of his brother Tuesday in an e-mail. "I am more than sure that he did want to serve his country."
Htaik, 20, died Saturday during combat operations in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan.
"He has never spoken of being afraid of death and was very quiet and calm," Yar wrote in the e-mail. "There are a lot of things, but I just want to say he was brave, real brave.
Yar said his brother was very quiet, and that he liked to play games on the computer and enjoyed drawing.
A 2008 graduate of Smithsburg High School, Htaik was an infantryman assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, II Marine Expeditionary Force, according to the Marine Corps. A news release issued Tuesday did not provide any additional details of his death, which the Department of Defense said Monday was in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Htaik joined the Marines in February 2009, his brother said. He was promoted to lance corporal April 1, 2010, and deployed to Afghanistan in July, the Marine Corps said.
Htaik's family left Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, in 1998, and moved to Singapore, Yar said. The family came to the United States in 2002 because their father wanted them to be able to get a better education, Yar said.
Htaik was a naturalized United States citizen, Yar said.
"He was interested in the military. I'm not sure why he chose the Marines," Grace Priest, the registrar at Smithsburg High School, said Tuesday. He was a student aide in the school's guidance office during his senior year, she said.
"He was a quiet young man. A nice young man," Priest said. "He would do anything you asked him to do," she said.
Htaik, who was known as Sam at school, transferred to Smithsburg from Frederick County during the second semester of his sophomore year, Priest said.
Htaik made the distinguished honor roll in his senior year at Smithsburg, according to Herald-Mail archives.
Among the photos Yar provided of his brother was one of Htaik shaking hands with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Htaik met Giuliani when the USS New York, an amphibious transport, was commissioned, Yar said.
Htaik's Marine Corps decorations include the National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Marine Corps said.
His body was returned to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Monday, the Department of Defense said.
Like his parents, Hla and Florie Shwe of Hagerstown, Htaik was a devout Christian, his brother said. Htaik attended Gateway Ministries in Williamsport, Yar said.
Funeral services will be Saturday at Frederick Christian Fellowship Church, 10142 Hansonville Road, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., with the viewing from 10 to 11 a.m., Yar said.
The family would like Htaik to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, but has not yet received burial information from the Department of Defense, Yar said.