Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Army Spc. Eduardo S. Silva, 25, loved making his family and friends laugh.

That he would die mysteriously in Afghanistan was unimaginable to his family in the Monterey County community of Greenfield. Because he was an Army cook, his family believed he would be safe.

The Army said Silva died of noncombat-related injuries June 9 in Bagram, Afghanistan, north of Kabul, where he was on his third tour of duty.

He was assigned to the 563rd Aviation Support Battalion, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Ft. Campbell, Ky.

His death is under investigation, and a spokeswoman said the findings would not be released for several weeks.

Silva’s father, Eduardo, said in an interview that he feared foul play in his son’s death.

“He didn’t die from combat, but from blows,” said his father, speaking in Spanish. “They found him dead in his bed.”

The elder Silva said a military doctor in Delaware told him that he did not know how his son died. His son’s ribs had been broken, he said, and the Army attributed that to the actions of paramedics who tried to save him.

His body “was very swollen, very fat,” his father said. “He never was fat. He visited in April, and he was strong and in good shape.”

He said his son joined the Army “because of the lies the government tells these kids.”

But his cousins said Silva was enjoying his tour in Afghanistan.

“He liked Afghanistan,” said Maria Silva, 25, a cousin who grew up with him. “When he was here two months ago, he was so happy. He was just going everywhere. . . . You could see the happiness he had in him.”

She said her aunt urged him not to return to Afghanistan after his trip home, promising to help him and his young wife financially until he could find other work. “But he said, ‘I like it over there, and I am going back.’ And he went back,” his cousin said.

She said her brother, also in the Army, had encouraged Silva to enlist because he “had nothing going on” at the time. “He just thought it would be cool,” she said.

Maria Silva said her cousin “never had enemies” and loved imitating Michael Jackson.

“He was like the clown of the family,” she said. “He would always make everybody laugh. He would just always make us happy. Whoever was around him would just be happy with him.”

Silva graduated from basic training at Ft. Jackson in Columbia, S.C., and in 2008 went to Ft. Campbell, where he served as a food service specialist.

His awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Afghanistan Campaign Medal; Iraqi Campaign Medal; Korean Defense Medal; Army Service Ribbon; and Weapons Qualification: M4-rifle, expert.

In addition to his father, Silva is survived by his wife, Rosalinda, whom he married in 2006; his mother, Sara; a brother, Enrique; and two sisters, Elizabeth and Erika.