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Honoring a local war hero: Living 'The Daegan Way'

Posted at 7:03 PM, May 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-26 20:03:03-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — May 26 marks nine months since the community lost a hero. On August 26, 2021, Cpl. Daegan Page was killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan, along with twelve other servicemembers.

3 News Now anchor Vanessa Villafuerte sat down with the Page family to learn more about the young man who was proud to serve his country. His family wants us all to live "The Daegan Way” to honor his memory.

"Part of us, we still find ourselves in shock a little bit. We'll see his name, we'll see 'in honor of' him and sometimes it still takes our breath away. This isn't really happening, this isn't our life, so it was just tough,” said Jenni Page, Daegan’s stepmother.

Rifling through old photos, his family remembers the young Marine, brother and son, known as “the life of the party.”

"Daegan was kind of the, he lived life by his own rules,” said Greg Page, Daegan’s father. “He very much wanted to live life, wanted to have fun, wanted to enjoy life. He was very serious about his friends, his family, and his fellow Marines."

Living by his own rules — it's something his family describes as living "The Daegan Way," or "The Dae Way" for short.

"The Daegan Way. Test your bounds, step out a little bit and get uncomfortable — that was the way he lived. As we've tried to do that, we've realized, there's something great in that,” his dad said.

He was a proud Nebraskan who loved his family and shared a special bond with his siblings.

"Gentle giant for sure. He would come in these doors, and they would immediately hit the floor wrestling and that's just how it was nonstop; headlocks and wrestling and just picking on each other,” Jenni said.

Daegan wasn’t afraid to take risks and was always up for some adventure.

"There was nothing he wasn't game for,” Greg said. “If you said 'hey, let's go wakeboarding today. I want to see you do a flip.' He'd say, 'yeah, let's try it.' He was always willing to go do that, to have fun, to try it, and so it kind of made all of us push our limits a little bit and I loved that."

This Memorial Day, Daegan’s father, stepmother and two younger siblings reflected on who Daegan was and what made him so special.

"He had a quick wit, so he was always funny. He was always quick with a joke, with something to say. He always had a comment — even as a little kid — we had a lot of fun,” Greg said.

"Everybody said he was my best friend,” said Greg. “And he was. He had that presence when he was around people, they just felt like he was the one that they could talk to, the one they wanted to be with, the one they had to be around, and that's kind of an incredible legacy to have.”

A legacy that is just now coming into focus as the initial grief starts to lift.

"Each month, I do find that we are seeing a little more smiling and laughter filling our lives when we talk about him,” Jenni said. “We find the funny in what Daegan would want because Daegan wouldn't want us sitting around. He would want us telling the funny stories and remembering just how funny and cool he was."

In the lows of his absence, the family said they do their best to live The Daegan Way.

Fighting through every ounce of pain, they honor his memory.

"Do it The Daegan Way,” Jenni said. “As we've navigated the last several months, we've decided we're not going to think about it, we're just going to do it. Today is today, let's take that opportunity and let's just do it."

Daegan’s family has created a non-profit, The Corporal Daegan Page Foundation. It supports organizations that aim to help people live "The Daegan Way" with the mission to help people seek adventure and overcome challenges.

You can learn more at daeganpage.org.

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