Former Ga. firefighter and 'Walking Dead' actor dies of cancer
Dango Nguyen was a member of the Athens-Clarke County Fire and Emergency Services for almost 20 years
By Wayne Ford
Athens Banner-Herald, Ga.
ATHENS, Ga. — A former Athens-Clarke County firefighter who acted on the popular sci-fi thriller "Walking Dead" died Saturday of cancer.
"It is with tremendous sadness that we mourn the loss of one of our former firefighters. Dango Nguyen passed away early this morning after a hard-fought battle with cancer. Dango was a member of our department for almost 20 years," the fire department announced on its Facebook.
Nguyen's death received national attention on CNN as he had a role in the third season of "The Walking Dead," a serial TV series about a zombie apocalypse.
Retired Athens-Clarke firefighter Ken Parson considered the 48-year-old Nguyen a friend.
"He was a unique, complex, bigger than life individual. If it could be done that dude was gonna do it," Parsons said Monday.
Nguyen, who had a Vietnamese heritage and a long black mane of hair, made an indelible impression on those who befriended him, according to Parsons.
"He was one of the strongest guys I ever worked with. He was built like Tarzan, but he wasn't some muscle head. We worked some difficult calls together," he said.
Parson said he was sorry that his firefighting companion has passed.
"I hate that for his wife and kids and the brotherhood of the fire service," he said.
Nguyen was a sergeant when he left the fire department to pursue acting.
During his acting career, Nguyen used the name Dango Nu Yen.
According to his IMDb profile, after high school, he sought to become a professional wrestler and trained with his friend and WWE Hall of Fame wrestler Rob Van Dam.
During the "Walking Dead," he played the role as a guard for The Governor, which IMDb described as a villain who fought with the show's lead character Rick Grimes. By the end of the season, Nguyen's character was killed.
"Everybody loved Dango. He never met a stranger. Always carefree and positive," said Sonya Thompson, a fellow actor who met Nguyen in Athens at a gym before his acting career when he was a personal trainer and she was a massage therapist.
Nguyen went full force into his acting career, said Thompson, who had a zombie role on the AMC show.
"He was always very passionate about anything he did. He lived life to the fullest," she said.
Nguyen also had acting roles on the shows "The Originals," "The Red Road," and "Banshee." He also acted in the History Channel's "Search of the Seven, Roanoke II," according to his acting biography.
©2019 the Athens Banner-Herald (Athens, Ga.)