A Kenyan-born U.S. Marine was buried Friday as an American citizen, ending his family's battle to have U.S. citizenship bestowed upon him posthumously after he was killed in a car crash.
U.S. Marines carried Raban Anthony Kimungu's flag-draped casket into the church Friday morning for a service full of family stories and Christian hymns sung in English and Kikuyu that lasted into the afternoon. There, family members were presented with his citizenship papers.
Kimungu, 24, of Hudson survived two tours of duty in Iraq, including a sniper's bullet to the head, then was killed in a car accident Oct. 27 in Nashua. When he died, he was waiting for word on his application to become a citizen.
Family and friends pressed for quick action on the citizenship after Kimungu died and it came through. U.S. Rep. Charles Bass presented Kimungu's mother Penny Wangiru Jones and his sisters with the document Friday, "with my greatest gratitude for what he has done for America," he said.
'The nucleus of our family'
The lengthy service included many joyous affirmations of the man they'd nicknamed "Baba" because he was the only boy in his immediate family. Kimungu has a twin sister, one older and one younger sister in addition to his mother.
"We call him Baba because he is the nucleus of our family," explained George Njoroge, a cousin.
After coming to Nashua at the age of two, Kimungu was surrounded by a large extended family with Kenyan ties.
Robert Kimungu remembered growing up with his cousin and being fed from the same spoon. "One person could not feed us fast enough," he said, describing the pair of them like baby birds in a nest.
Raban Kimungu joined the U.S. Marines in the fall of 2002 and thrived in the military, his cousin said.