Army private from southwest Detroit dies in Syria

A U.S. Army private from Michigan made the ultimate sacrifice overseas.

Southwest Detroit native Michael Thomason died while serving in northern Syria. Thomason, 28, was destined to serve his country in the Army, something he explained to his youngest sister Amber Martinez. 

"He wants to help people, that can't help themselves, and that's why he joined it," she said. "(He said) 'I'm doing this because I want to protect my country. I want to protect people who can't protect themselves.'"

And for the past four months he was stationed in Syria. Two days ago Martinez spoke to her brother for the last time. 

"He seemed like he was happy," she said. "He was asking about my parents, my kids, his kids, how's everyone over here."

On Sunday night at about 10:35 p.m. she says the Army knocked on her parents' door informing them that Michael had been killed in what she describes as a non-combat shooting, but offered little else in terms of the details of his death.

Martinez says her brother was supposed to be on patrol and was with security at the time of his death. 

"That's what I don't understand is that if was supposed to be highly protected, how did this happen to my brother," she said. 
Amber remembers simpler times with her brother growing up together in Detroit. 

"He was a jokester, he definitely liked to joke around with us," Martinez said.

And while there are mysteries surrounding his death, she knows one thing for certain - "I'm proud to say he was a hero," she said.

The house that Michael grew up in is gone now, in fact there is little left of the neighborhood. Friends and family plan on holding a vigil at Oakwood and Colonial at 8 p.m. on Tuesday.  
Hundreds are expected to attend and all are welcome.