Sgt. Elijah Tai Wah Wong was a devoted husband and father who always managed to see the bright side in difficult situations.
"You could put him in the middle of nowhere with a canteen of water and he would find a way to make you laugh," said his sister, Helga Wong.
The 42-year-old bomb disposal expert from Mesa, Ariz., was killed Feb. 9 in Sinjar, Iraq, when rocket-propelled grenades and mortar rounds blew up while being moved to a detonation site.
A National Guardsman, Wong worked as a probation officer in Maricopa County. He leaves behind his wife and three children, ages 12, 9 and 2. "If you knew Eli, you knew his family was his love," said Sally Maurizi, a former co-worker.
Wong was born in New York but moved to Israel as a ninth-grader and enlisted in the Israeli army at 18. He returned to the United States and served in the Air Force, the New York Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve before joining the Arizona Guard.