(Taken from www.twincities.com) Pfc. Kham Xiong had been in the Army two years when he received orders to go to Afghanistan. He was stationed at Fort Hood in Texas and was training to work with heavy artillery overseas.
The St. Paul soldier was due to ship out in January, and on Thursday, he joined about 300 other GIs for a flu shot and an eye test at the base's Soldier Readiness Center.
That is when, officials said, an Army psychiatrist armed with two pistols opened fire.
Thirteen soldiers and civilians died. Xiong, a 23-year-old married father of three, was among them.
His parents said Friday that they don't know exactly how or where Xiong died. But they said he was among the first to be shot.
"We loved him very much," father Chor Xiong said. "Why is it that it had to be Kham?"
Xiong's extended family — he has 10 younger siblings — gathered Friday morning at his parents' two-story home on St. Paul's East Side. They looked through scrapbooks at photos of Kham and snacked from a table laden with oranges, bananas and sausage. A pastor stopped by to pray.
The family said Kham Xiong was a good, hard-working son. He called home nearly every night to talk with his father and younger brothers. He was eager to head overseas, his family said. Their last conversation with their son was this week.
"I talked with him, how he needed to teach his young sons to do everything good like him," Chor Xiong said.
Kham Xiong lived off base with his wife, Shoua Her, two sons and a daughter.
Shoua Her had talked with her husband by phone about noon Thursday.
But after seeing news of the shooting on television, she tried to reach him again at 1:30 p.m. — and could not, Chor Xiong said.
She called her husband's phone repeatedly for the next few hours, then called Chor Xiong and asked him to try his son's phone.
Chor Xiong received no answer.
Shoua Her called the base but couldn't get any information about her husband, Chor Xiong said. She eventually drove to the installation but couldn't get in; it had been locked down.
At one point, Chor Xiong said, the family was told Kham Xiong was in a hospital and might be all right.
But at 3 a.m. Friday, an Army officer arrived at Kham Xiong's home to tell his wife Kham was dead.
The Xiongs immigrated to the United States from Thailand when Kham Xiong was 3 years old, his father said. They spent 11 years in California and moved to St. Paul about 10 years ago.
Chor Xiong said his family has a history of serving in the military. He fought in Laos during the Vietnam War, as did his father.
Kham Xiong, Chor Xiong's oldest child, had an interest in serving since childhood.
"From kindergarten to 12th grade, he liked the Army," Chor Xiong said.
The father said his son wanted to go to college but didn't have the money. A younger brother already was serving in the Marines and encouraged Kham Xiong to join the armed forces. The older brother enlisted in the Army two years ago.
He was stationed at Fort Knox in Kentucky before he was transferred to Fort Hood, his family said. He returned to Minnesota in July to pick up his wife and children and move them to a home near the base.
Four of Her's sisters flew to Texas Friday morning to pack up the family and bring them back to St. Paul.
The family said Xiong's body would be flown to Minnesota this weekend and that they planned a funeral for next week. Gov. Tim Pawlenty ordered all U.S. and state flags flown at half-staff through sunset today in honor of the men and women killed and wounded at Fort Hood.
A 2004 graduate of Community of Peace Academy in St. Paul, Kham Xiong liked to hunt deer and squirrel near Brainerd, Minn., and fish for white bass, crappies and walleye in the St. Croix River, his dad said.
Chor Xiong sat up straight as he talked about Kham — the good soldier, worker and son — and questioned how such a catastrophe could happen on a military base.
"We're devastated because he hadn't been deployed yet, and this tragedy happened," Chor Xiong said. "We're just wondering, 'Why?' "
Kham Xiong is survived by his wife and children, his parents and 10 siblings.