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LAST UPDATE: Tuesday February 10, 2015 01:10PM EST
- January 21, 2013
- Vol. 79
- No. 2
Ty Ziegel 1982-2012: 'He Never Asked, Why Me?'
An Iraq Vet Featured in PEOPLE Dies at 30
Tragically, that life was cut short in the early-morning hours of Dec. 26, when the 30-year-old collapsed and died after joining friends at a local bar. As of press time, autopsy results were pending; his mother, Becky Ziegel, told the coroner he had a history of seizures.
He never embraced the term "hero," but those who knew him said he was one. After joining the Marines right out of school in 2001 (his younger brother Zachary, now 27, followed in his footsteps), he was patrolling in Anbar province with six other Marines when his truck was hit by a suicide car bomber. Ziegel, a machine gunner, was engulfed in flames; he underwent 30 surgeries and lost sight in one eye, his left arm below the elbow and three fingers on his right hand. But he never lost hope. "He was the same person he'd always been," Bitner says. "He was just happy."
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