A Marine embassy guard who was honored last year for disarming a knife-wielding attacker at a Virginia Chick-fil-A restaurant died just before Christmas while on duty in Africa. 

Marine Lance Cpl. Nicholas Dural, 20, was killed on Dec. 19 while assigned to the U.S. Embassy Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, his father Dalton confirmed to Task & Purpose.

On March 9, Dural was one of three Marine Security Guards who, while off-duty, stopped two teenagers from stabbing a third teenager during a fight that broke out inside a Chick-fil-A restaurant in North Stafford, Virginia.

Dalton Dural was unable to provide any further information about the circumstances of his son’s death because the matter is under investigation.

He described his son as a relentlessly positive person who cared for others. It was this outgoingness that ultimately led him to become a Marine.

“He wanted to make a difference in the world,” Dalton Dural said. “He figured he would start with the military. One of his goals was to run for public office because, again, he wanted to make a difference in the world.  He wanted to help people. He loved helping the underdog.”

Subscribe to Task & Purpose today. Get the latest military news and culture in your inbox daily.

Marine Corps officials did not respond to emails and phone calls from Task & Purpose on Tuesday asking for more information about Nicholas Dural’s death, which was first reported on Sunday by Marine Corps Times.

Marine Lance Cpl. Nicholas Dural
Marine Lance Cpl. Nicholas Dural, 20, was killed on Dec. 19 while on duty as a Marine Security Guard assigned to the U.S. Embassy Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, his father said. (Photo courtesy of Kimberly Dural)

In April, Dural received the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal along with Cpl. John Darby, Cpl. Bradley Feldkamp for foiling the stabbing at the Chick-fil-A.

During an interview with reporters, Nicholas Dural explained how he used his Marine Security Guard training on defensive tactics to disarm the teenager who was holding a knife.

“I had my left hand on basically the back of the blade and the top of the hilt of the knife,” Nicholas Dural said at the time. “When I was pushing down and twisting, since I had the blade basically in my hand – the back of the blade – when I was twisting it, I guess I put so much pressure down there I was able to snap the knife.”

Originally from Lafayette, Louisiana, Nicholas Dural enlisted in the Marine Corps after briefly attending college, his father said. His family first learned of his decision when they received a letter from his former employer saying that he had resigned from his job to join the military.

“I knew it was something that he always wanted to do,” Dalton Dural recalled. “I support my kids in whatever they want to do – and I knew I couldn’t talk him out of it.”

Marine Lance Cpl. Nicholas Dural
Marine Lance Cpl. Nicholas Dural, 20, wanted to be a Marine while growing up. He joined the Young Marines as a child. (Photo courtesy of Kimberly Dural)

It quickly became apparent that Nicholas Dural was a standout Marine, his father said. At his graduation from recruit training, his drill instructors along with Marines of all ranks came over to his family to commend them for raising such an excellent young man and saying how proud they were of him.

“They were looking forward to having him as a Marine,” Dalton Dural said. “They were looking forward to his future because of his dedication, determination, and his enthusiasm about what he was doing – and his maturity. I think his maturity really floored and surprised them. That’s what allowed him to excel. It’s just the way that I raised him.”

For Nicholas Dural, joining the Marine Corps was the culmination of his lifelong dream, said his mother Kimberly.

Her son had wanted to be a Marine since he was a child, she said. His school did not have a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program, so Nicholas Dural joined the Young Marines instead.

“Nick always wanted to be a Marine,” Kimberly Dural said. “There was no deterring him. He wanted to serve as a Marine.”

In his brief time on this earth, Nicholas Dural made his mark and showed his commitment to help others, his parents said.

“He did a lot in 20 years,” Kimberly Dural said.

The latest on Task & Purpose