SAN ANTONIO, TX, US
U.S. Marine Corps
LCPL, 3/6, RCT-7, 1ST MARDIV FWD, I MEF FWD (PARENT CMND: 2D MARDIV)
05/06/2010, HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN
When relatives think of Christopher Rangel, a song sometimes comes to mind. It’s one from the children’s TV show “Caillou,” the one he used to dance to for his nieces and nephews, and cousins.
“He had a blast,” his uncle Robert Rangel said. “We would walk in before and we would find him singing it at the top of his lungs, like there was no tomorrow.”
Rangel, 22, of San Antonio, died May 6 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, when he was shot by a sniper. He was assigned to Camp Lejeune, N.C., and had previously served in Iraq.
He knew as a youngster that he wanted to become a Marine and couldn’t be talked out of it. He had played linebacker on the football team at South San Antonio West Campus High School, where he graduated in 2006.
He had a big appetite — it earned him the nickname “Mi Piggy” at home — to match a big heart, relatives said.
“He always had a helping hand if you need it,” Robert Rangel said.
His wife, who also attended West Campus, said her husband, a Marine lance corporal and infantry team leader who served twice in Iraq, “gave it his all.”
“He was a great husband. Even when he came home tired, he would help me with anything,” Linda Rangel, a petty officer in the Navy, said by phone Monday from Norfolk, Va.
Rangel, son of former San Antonio boxer Roland Rangel, was raised with his sister Belinda and twin brother Roland Jr. by their paternal grandparents, Gloria and Alfredo Rangel, relatives said.
“We pretty much grew up together as brothers” in a large family on the Southwest Side, said Robert Rangel, 27, the Marine’s uncle.
Rangel had wanted to become a career Marine. But after deploying to Afghanistan in January, he recently decided to get out of the service and return to school, once his tour ended in July, his uncle said.
“He knew it was going to be tough in Afghanistan,” he said.
But Rangel’s uncle smiled when talking about his nephew being nicknamed “Wee Man” in football, because of his size, and his jubilation at scoring a touchdown against Marion his senior season, though the game was one of many the Cougars lost.
John Olmstead, a former West Campus football coach and former Army major, said Rangel played football all through high school and had extra energy in the fourth quarter.
“If he’d tried as hard in academics as he did in athletics, he would’ve made all A’s,” Olmstead said. “He played much bigger than his size. There were a lot of qualities in Chris that reminded me of some of the better soldiers I’d had.”