Dango Nguyen, a beloved Georgia firefighter who pursued a career in acting and appeared on The Walking Dead, died over the weekend after a “hard-fought battle with cancer.” He was 48.
The Athens-Clarke County Fire and Emergency Services confirmed the sad news on Facebook on Saturday and praised Nguyen for his commitment to the department, his admirable strength and his long-lasting impact on others.
“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,” they wrote. “Dango was a member of our department for almost 20 years.”
“Dango was a sergeant with our department when he left to pursue a career in the entertainment industry and other interests,” they continued of the stuntman and actor, who performed under the stage name Dango Nu Yen.
According to his IMDb page, Nguyen began his acting career in 2011. A year later, Nguyen nabbed the role of the guard on The Walking Dead.
He appeared in several episodes throughout the AMC zombie apocalypse drama’s third season, playing the guard who protected the town of Woodbury and The Governor (David Morrissey) from Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln).
His time on the thriller series ended in 2013 and Nguyen went on to appear in several other shows including Banshee, MacGyver, The Gifted, Star and a four-year stint on The Originals.
He also pursued a career in stunts in 2015 and was a stunt performer for many of the shows he acted on, as well as The Red Road with Jason Momoa and Netflix’s Insatiable, according to his IMDb.
Once diagnosed with cancer, Nguyen continued to document his health journey on Instagram and kept his followers in the loop with his progress.
The former actor even had shirts made in his honor that read “Dango Strong,” which he and his loved ones used as inspiration to keep fighting against the illness.
Despite not serving in the fire department at the time of his death, the Athens-Clarke County Fire and Emergency Services said Nguyen always remained an important member of their squad and would be greatly missed for everything he brought to the world.
“Once you’re a firefighter, you’re always part of our family. And Dango was a very well known member of our family,” they wrote.
“He will always be remembered for his physical and mental strength. He was an aggressive and tenacious firefighter and first responder,” they continued.
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“He was also an excellent fire officer. He carried out his service to our community with a high level of pride in his craft, as well as a competitive spirit that made everyone else that he worked with better too.”
“He touched many lives. We will all remember his quick wit, high energy, and unwavering determination,” they finished. “We all aspire to be ‘Dango Strong’.”
Nguyen leaves behind his wife of two years, Michelle, and his family.