Dango Nguyen, who appeared in multiple episodes of The Walking Dead’s third season, died Saturday after a battle with cancer, FOX 5 Atlanta reports. He was 48.
Nguyen served as a member of Georgia’s Athens-Clarke County fire department for nearly 20 years before leaving to pursue a career in the entertainment industry.
“But, once you’re a firefighter, you’re always part of our family. And Dango was a very well known member of our family,” the Athens-Clarke County Fire and Emergency Services Facebook page wrote in a post announcing Nguyen’s death.
“He will always be remembered for his physical and mental strength. He was an aggressive and tenacious firefighter and first responder. 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.”
Nguyen’s credits include MacGyver, The Gifted and The Originals. On The Walking Dead, Nguyen played a Woodbury guard aligned with the Governor (David Morrissey) and appeared across seven episodes of the zombie drama’s third season.
His most memorable Walking Dead moment came when Nguyen’s unnamed character was shot by a defecting Merle (Michael Rooker) and then devoured by walkers.
In a 2013 interview with The Walking Dead Wiki, Nguyen said his character was listed only as “Mean Guard” and that he wanted the character to join Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) and his band of survivors, who were then holed up in a prison.
“I’m not mean! I had visions of my character hooking up with the group after the battle with the Governor. I could see me and Daryl Dixon pairing up, tracking and hunting together,” Nguyen said. The actor and stunt performer added his son was “super psyched” to learn Nguyen would be appearing on The Walking Dead.
“I had worked on a couple of different sets, and made some contacts,” Nguyen said of his joining the show. “A friend of mine noticed an ad on Facebook looking for ‘mean bodyguard’ types. It didn’t list that it was for The Walking Dead. So I didn’t know until I got the part.”
Asked how he won the distinction of receiving a memorable death at the hand of Merle Dixon, Nguyen said, “I heard talk that they needed someone recognizable to make an impact.”
Nguyen is survived by wife Michelle and family.