HOUSTON, TX, US
PO3, 3/1, RCT-7, 1ST MARDIV FWD, I MEF FWD
12/02/2003, BAGRAM AIR FIELD, AFGHANISTAN
Before he deployed to Afghanistan last month, Zarian Wood visited his father and brother for a week at their home in south Houston. The three men played video games, dined on steak and shrimp and lounged on camping chairs in the driveway. It was like a mini family reunion, recalled his father, Daniel Wood.
“Just before he left, he told me, ‘Dad, take care of yourself and everything, and I’ll be back,’ ” he said.
The 29-year-old Navy petty officer third class from Houston died Sunday of wounds inflicted by a bomb blast during a foot patrol in Helmand Province. He had only been in Afghanistan about 3½ weeks.
“He was a good honest Christian man,” said his father, a 63-year-old Vietnam veteran. “He thought he went over there to help children and help the country better itself, and wham.”
The father took a shaking breath, still stunned by the news.
“Ah well, he’s with the good Lord, you know,” he said.
Nicknamed “Z,” Zarian graduated in 1999 from South Houston High School, where he’d competed on the wrestling team.He worked as a youth pastor and tutor for troubled kids on Houston’s northeast side and a merchandiser for Coca-Cola before enlisting in 2006. His decision to undergo rigorous training to become a hospital corpsman was very much in character for him, his relatives say.
“He was a very giving young man and my mother taught all of us that when you have nothing to give you have yourself to give,” said his sister, Teresa Robertson.
Zarian deployed to Iraq from 2007-2008. His relatives said he volunteered for his second combat tour, this time a seven-month stint in Afghanistan, where he served as “Doc” on the front lines alongside Marine infantrymen from Camp Pendleton, Calif. He was assigned to India Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force.
“He was taking care of other folks,” his father said. “He was doing what he wanted to do, and he was doing it for his beliefs. He didn’t want younger men to have to see and do what he’d seen and done over there.”
“He had a good heart, very outgoing, worked out at the gym every day,” said his older brother, Zachary Wood. “He cared about his looks.”
“He was very meticulous about that,” his father said with a laugh. “He was a handsome man.”
He was an honest man, too, even to the point of being blunt, his brother said.
“Yeah, he’d tell you in a flat minute if you were wrong,” his father said. “Then again, he’d stand up for you in a flat minute if you were right.”
He said his son dreamed of going back to school someday.
“He wanted to study radiology and then after he got that degree, he was going to try to become a dentist,” he said. “He was all about living life, living life to the fullest,” his brother said.
Zarian was preceded in death by his mother, Nellie Sue Wood. He is survived by his father, Daniel Wood, and siblings Zachary Wood, Krista Hamilton, Teresa Robertson, Victor Robertson and Micah Dixon.