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Abington Marine killed in combat in Afghanistan

ABINGTON — A Marine from Abington was killed in combat Monday in Afghanistan, the second Marine from Massachusetts to die in that country in less than two weeks.

Sergeant Daniel M. Vasselian, 27, died while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, the Department of Defense said Tuesday in a statement.

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He was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and had been assigned to the First Battalion, Ninth Marine Regiment, Second Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, based in Camp Lejeune, N.C., the Defense Department said.

Vasselian was killed on the same day that a funeral was held for another Marine, Lance Corporal Matthew R. Rodriguez of Fairhaven, who died in combat in the same province on Dec. 11.

In a written statement, a sister of Vasselian’s said he died in “active combat.” The statement was given to New England Cable News, which shared it with the Globe.

“He was born and raised in Abington and was considered by most as the mayor of this town,” wrote his sister, Jeannine Vasselian. “He was the life of any party and brought humor wherever he went. He was truly amazing.”

She said her brother had recently celebrated his fourth wedding anniversary with his wife, Erin, whom he started dating in high school.

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“This was his third tour and [he had] already served in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Jeannine Vasselian said. “He was so proud to be a Marine and serve his country and paid the ultimate sacrifice and this world truly lost an amazing hero. He’ll be missed more than words can express and loved by his family and friends forever.”

Vasselian’s family could not be reached for further comment on Tuesday.

A neighbor who lives across the street, Maureen Twomey, 49, said she was devastated to hear of Vasselian’s death.

“I actually cried,” Twomey said. “It was very heartbreaking, especially a 27-year-old young man.”

A stream of visitors had been coming and going from the Vasselian residence since Monday night, Twomey added.

“It is a really sad, sad thing,” she said.

Another neighbor, Patricio Montenegro, 38, said he does not know the Vasselian family but was saddened to hear the news, especially since it came so close to Christmas.

“Obviously I felt so bad,” he said, adding that it was unfortunate Vasselian’s relatives were informed during what is supposed to be “family time.”

US Representative Stephen F. Lynch, whose district includes Abington, praised Vasselian for his service on Tuesday.

“By all accounts Sgt. Vasselian was a favorite son of the Town of Abington,” Lynch said in a statement. “The people of Abington take enormous pride in Dan’s service to his country — which included three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is an American hero — no doubt about that.”

Lynch added, “Dan and his wife Erin (Doyle) attended Abington High School. So in a small tightly-knit community like Abington, Dan’s loss is devastating, as it is for our nation. We hold Dan and the Vasselian and Doyle families in our hearts and prayers.”

Tributes to Vasselian also poured in on social media websites. “Pause for a moment and remember Sgt. Daniel Vasselian and his family,” the Boston Fire Department said on its official Twitter feed. “Never Forget!”

The department also thanked Rodriguez’s family.

“Two Marines leave two families and many friends while proudly serving our country,” the department tweeted. “Thank you to their families.”

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.

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