A U.S. Marine major who was a veteran of the 1991 Persian Gulf War has died in the latest conflict in Iraq, a family member told The Associated Press.

Military officials told the wife of Maj. Kevin Nave that her 36-year-old husband had died in combat, Nave's cousin, Molly McAuliffe, told the AP by phone from the Naves' home in Oceanside, Calif., on Thursday night.

It was unclear how or when Nave was killed. By early Friday, he had not been listed on the military's tally of soldiers killed in action.

Nave, from White Lake Township, about 20 miles north of Detroit, was stationed at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside. He and his wife, Carrie, lived there with their son Anthony, 6, and daughter, Maeve, who turned 5 on Thursday.

"We lost Kevin," his mother, Anne Nave, had told the Detroit Free Press in Friday's editions. She declined any further comment.

Nave graduated in 1985 from Waterford Kettering High School where he was on the school's varsity football and wrestling teams. Teachers at the school received the news in a Thursday afternoon staff meeting.

"He was a very positive type personality, a school leader and a good citizen," said Ronald Zeeman, dean of students and a math teacher during Nave's years there. "To have something like this happen, it really hits home."

After high school, Nave went to the University of Michigan on a Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship. He graduated in 1989 with a degree in political science, family members said.

"He was a Marine, through and through," Nave's brother, Tony Nave, told The Detroit News. "That's what he always wanted to do."