Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Chirasak Vidhyarkorn dies 'of injuries suffered from a non-combat related incident'

A Queens soldier who was days away from returning home on a long-awaited two-week furlough was killed in Iraq late last month, military officials and the soldier's family said yesterday.

Army Spec. Chirasak Vidhyarkorn, 32, was six days shy of coming back to Bayside, Queens, to celebrate a cousin's 21st birthday when he died of injuries sustained in a noncombat-related incident Saturday in Diwanihay.

Vidhyarkorn's death, which military officials said is under investigation, has devastated his parents, who live in Thailand and are trying desperately to arrange for a visa so they can travel to America to claim their son's remains.

"I want my son back, my sole son," Vidhyarkorn's mother told the Daily News by telephone last night.

Speaking through sobs, the mother refused to give her name or hometown for fear her family will be persecuted. Relatives in New York said that in Thailand it is frowned upon for someone to go to America and fight in the U.S. Army.

Vidhyarkorn was born in the Bronx but returned to Thailand at an early age, family members said. In Thailand, he studied to become an environmental engineer.

He then returned to New York, where he lived with relatives and enlisted in the Army in 2000, serving two years on active duty and then going into the reserves. He was called back to active duty and a year-long tour in Iraq in 2003. Upon returning to New York, he enrolled in a master's of engineering program at New York Institute of Technology in Westbury, L.I., and took a job working as an engineer for New York State.

His cousin Ron Kun, 20 - whose birthday on Columbus Day Vidhyarkorn was so looking forward to celebrating - said the Army called the soldier back to Iraq last December for a second tour.

From the New York Daily News