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ELMWOOD PARK, Ill. (STMW) – A family and a village mourn the life of a man who only a few weeks into active duty as a U.S. Marine was killed in combat in Afghanistan.
Lance Cpl. Nickolas Daniels, 25, of 2300 block of 74th Court in Elmwood Park, died Nov. 5.
Marines in dress uniforms came to Daniels’ home Saturday to give the news to his family and express their condolences. No details have been released about the cause of death.
His sister, Kati Daniels, 21, said the family was shocked to hear the news.
Nick had not been in Afghanistan very long, she said. He left home Sept. 4 for his first deployment as a combat engineer. He worked in an explosive disposal unit, a member of the 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division.
“He went into it [the military] to change his life,” Kati Daniels said.
His brother, Lonny Daniels, 20, said Nick enjoyed a challenge. He said his brother was excited about his first deployment.
“He didn’t seem nervous, he seemed ready,” Lonny Daniels said. “Ready to go.”
Nickolas Daniels graduated from St. Patrick High School, in Chicago, in 2004, where his younger brother, Billy, currently attends. Nickolas Daniels excelled in sports, especially football where he played linebacker and made All-Conference his senior year.
After high school Daniels went to college for a semester but found out it wasn’t for him.
He worked several jobs in Elmwood Park and coached football at his high school alma mater, but decided to join the Marine Corps because he believed it would help him reach his goal of becoming a police officer.
“He thought it would be a good fit for him,” Lonny Daniels said. “He wanted to better himself.”
Nickolas Daniels graduated from basic training in January 2010.
The Elmwood Park Village Board held a moment of silence in honor of Daniels at its meeting on Monday. The village is seeking permission from Governor Quinn to lower flags to half-staff.
Elmwood Park Mayor Peter Silvestri said Daniels is a hero and should be honored for his service to his country.
“He’s a brave man, obviously, and we all should be proud of him,” Silvestri said. “Still, it’s a horrible thing to lose a child in a situation of war.”
Kati and Lonny Daniels said the family, led by his father, Greg, and his mother, Debi, will miss Nick’s sense of humor and his strong presence in the family.
They continue to honor him by flying the U.S. Marine Corps flag off the family’s porch.
Lonny Daniels said although his brother was the first in the immediate family to ever join the military, he did it for his own betterment, nothing else.
“He didn’t do it to prove it to anyone else,” he said.
“We’re very proud of him. We’d always be proud of him no matter what.”
Funeral services are pending.
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