Day by Day, Death by Death

A Chronology of U.S. Military Fatalities Since 'Mission Accomplished,' Part I

To the Bush administration's more ardent partisans, the death toll in Iraq is merely something to "be aware of," as one recently put it in a communiqué from Baghdad—an acceptable trade of human lives for regime change.

The United States has lost nearly 600 military personnel since the war began, a year ago last week. Of those, at least 437 have died since May 1, when President Bush landed on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln and, under a banner reading "Mission Accomplished," declared major combat over. Some note that the list of names is roughly equivalent to what U.S. forces racked up in their first eight years in Vietnam, 1957-1964. But of those 401 deaths, 324 occurred in the final two years.

Perhaps the more meaningful way to examine the death toll is in the context of what military personnel and their families are saying about the violence in Iraq, where as many as 10,700 civilians and 600-plus Iraqi policemen—recruited after the fall of Saddam—have died. U.S. soldiers returning from Iraq note that everything from their own convoy security to contractor support to basic equipment—from socks to body armor and, as The Wall Street Journal showed last week, vehicles—has been lacking.

Military reformers wonder if the fact that young officers are being promoted faster—but with less training than ever—might be a factor in the number of post-Saddam deaths. They wonder if the military, the army in particular, will dispense with its techno fetish and get serious again about the human dimensions of combat. Many of the casualties have come from National Guard and reserve units, and observers express anger at the lack of training and equipment, especially for operations that essentially amount to urban counter-insurgency.

Listen to Rosemarie Dietz Slavenas, who on February 2 wrote the president a letter about one of the casualties, Brian Slavenas, her son and an Illinois national guardsman. Brian was killed in action on November 2. Her son "did not give his life," she wrote. "It was cruelly taken from him by your rush to war—against the United Nations, old allies like France and Germany, western religions' 'Just War Doctrine,' the entire Arab world, and most civilized nations. You inherited peace and prosperity and created murder, mayhem, and massive debt. According to the ongoing investigation of the helicopter crash that took Brian's and 15 other American lives, the Illinois National Guard aircraft were sent into the field without basic survivability equipment, to accommodate your 'shoot and bomb first, think and investigate later' brand of foreign policy. We don't need a trigger-happy president." —Jason Vest

May 2003
  • President George W. Bush, aboard the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, declares, "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."
  • A private first class is killed when a riverbank collapses and his parked tank falls into the Euphrates River.
    [Jesse A. Givens, 34, Springfield MO]
  • A private first class is killed by a non-combat weapons discharge in Kuwait.
    [Jason L. Diebler, 20, Coeburn VA]
  • A lance corporal is killed in Kuwait when his Hummer hits a parked trailer.
    [Matthew R. Smith, 20, Anderson IN]
  • A lance corporal is killed when a munitions bunker in which he's working catches fire and explodes.
    [Nicholas Brian Kleiboeker, 19, Irvington, IL]
  • A staff sergeant is killed when his convoy is ambushed.
    [Patrick Lee Griffin Jr., 31, Elgin SC]
  • A specialist is killed while driving a five-ton truck when he swerves into the median to avoid an Iraqi civilian vehicle and his truck overturns.
    [David T. Nutt, 32, Blackshear GA]
  • A master sergeant is killed when ordnance he's examining explodes.
    [William L. Payne, 46, Otsego MI]
  • A specialist is fatally shot in the chest by another soldier cleaning his gun.
    [Rashid Sahib, 22, Brooklyn NY]
  • A corporal is killed when a large transport truck in which he's riding rolls over.
    [Douglas Jose Marenco-Reyes, 28, Chino CA]
  • A lieutenant colonel is killed when a tractor-trailer jackknifes on a road and collides with his Hummer.
    [Dominic R. Baragona, 42, Niles, OH]
  • A captain, a first lieutenant, a lance corporal, and a staff sergeant are killed when their CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter crashes into a canal shortly after takeoff.
    [Andrew David La Mont, 31, Eureka CA; Timothy Louis Ryan, 30, Aurora IL; Jason William Moore, 21, San Marcos CA; Aaron Dean White, 27, Shawnee OK] A sergeant drowns trying to rescue them.
    [Kirk Allen Straseskie, 23, Beaver Dam WI]
  • A staff sergeant is fatally injured when he orders his troops to fire a grenade at the door of a suspected arms market and a piece of shrapnel flies under his helmet and lodges in his head. He dies June 18.
    [William T. Latham, 29, Kingman AZ]
  • A major is killed by gunmen when his convoy is ambushed.
    [Mathew E. Schram, 36, Brookfield WI]
  • A staff sergeant and a private are killed when a heavy-equipment transporter crosses a road median and strikes their Hummer.
    [Brett J. Petriken, 30, Flint MI; Kenneth A. Nalley, 19, Hamburg IA]
  • A private first class is killed when his vehicle is blown up by a bomb in the road.
    [Jeremiah D. Smith, 25, Odessa MO]
  • A sergeant is fatally injured on his way back to the U.S. when his Hummer rolls over on the road to Kuwait.
    [Jonathan W. Lambert, 28, Booneville MS]
  • A sergeant who had written to his father complaining of the heat drowns after jumping into a seven-foot-deep body of water.
    [Keman L. Mitchell, 24, Hilliard FL]
  • A specialist is killed when his convoy is ambushed.
    [Jose Amancio Perez III, 22, San Diego TX]
  • A staff sergeant dies of a heart attack.
    [Kenneth R. Bradley, 39, Utica MS]
  • Three specialists are killed during a storm when a civilian vehicle dodges a pothole, causing two Hummers in their convoy to swerve and their truck to turn sharply and roll over.
    [Zachariah W. Long, 20, Milton PA; Kyle A. Griffin, 20, Emerson NJ; Michael T. Gleason, 25, Warren PA]
  • A sergeant is killed by gunfire and grenades in a checkpoint ambush.
    [Atanasio Haro Marin Jr., 27, Baldwin Park CA]
  • A private first class is killed by a rocket-propelled grenade in a midnight ambush at a checkpoint.
    [Branden F. Oberleitner, 20, Worthington OH]
  • A private is shot to death when his military-police station is hit by rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire.
    [Jesse M. Halling, 19, Indianapolis IN]
  • A sergeant at a checkpoint is shot to death after two men get out of a vehicle, request a medic for what they call a "sick friend," and suddenly open fire.
    [Michael E. Dooley, 23, Pulaski VA]
  • A private first class is killed when a rocket-propelled grenade launched from a nearby house hits a bus in which he's resting off duty.
    [Gavin L. Neighbor, 20, Somerset OH]
  • A specialist drowns while swimming in a lake in a palace compound.
    [John K. Klinesmith Jr., 25, Stockbridge GA]
  • A staff sergeant is killed when his M-113 armored personnel carrier throws a track and rolls over.
    [Andrew R. Pokorny, 30, Naperville IL]
  • A private first class is killed by a "non-combat weapons discharge."
    [Ryan R. Cox, 19, Derby KS]
  • A private first class is shot to death while guarding a propane distribution center.
    [Michael R. Deuel, 21, Nemo SD]
  • A specialist is killed when a rocket-propelled grenade hits an ambulance in which his crew is transporting a wounded soldier.
    [Paul T. Nakamura, 21, Santa Fe Springs CA]
  • A specialist is killed by small-arms fire during an ambush.
    [Orenthial J. Smith, 21, Allendale SC]
  • A specialist dies of "non-combat-related causes."
    [Cedric L. Lennon, 32, West Blocton AL]
  • A specialist is killed when his Hummer is blown up in an ambush.
    [Andrew Chris, 25, Florence AL]
  • A lance corporal is killed when his armored vehicle rolls over.
    [Gregory E. MacDonald, 29, Washington DC]
  • A sergeant first class and a private first class are found dead, three days into an intensive search after they had last been seen traveling in a Hummer near a dangerous checkpoint.
    [Gladimir Philippe, 37, Linden NJ; Kevin Ott, 27, Orient OH]
  • A private first class dies from a gunshot wound, reportedly killing himself after calling home and in front of other soldiers waiting to use the telephone.
    [Corey L. Small, 20, East Berlin PA]
  • A private first class is shot to death on patrol.
    [Edward J. Herrgott, 20, Shakopee MN]
  • A captain is killed in a non-combat vehicle accident.
    [Paul J. Cassidy, 36, Laingsburg MI]
  • A sergeant manning a traffic point is crushed to death by a speeding dump truck after he pushes another soldier out of its path.
    [Jaror C. Puello-Coronado, 36, Pocono Summit PA]
  • A sergeant is killed in a rocket-propelled grenade attack.
    [Michael T. Crockett, 27, Soperton GA]
  • A lance corporal falls 60 feet to his death while standing guard on a palace roof.
    [Cory Ryan Geurin, 18, Santee CA]
  • A petty officer third class Navy medic is accidentally shot in the face and killed while marines he is assigned to are cleaning and putting away their weapons.
    [David J. Moreno, 26, Gering NE]
  • A sergeant dies from non-combat injuries.
    [Mason Douglas Whetstone, 30, Anchorage AK]
  • A specialist is killed when the vehicle he's driving is blown up.
    [Joel L. Bertoldie, 20, Independence MO]
  • A second lieutenant is killed when his unit is hit by rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire while providing security at a municipal building.
    [Jonathan D. Rozier, 25, Katy TX]
  • A corporal is killed when his convoy is hit by a homemade bomb.
    [Mark A. Bibby, 25, Watha NC]
  • A specialist is killed when his Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck is hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.
    [Jon P. Fettig, 30, Dickinson ND]
  • A specialist, a private first class, and a sergeant are killed by a grenade thrown from the window of an Iraqi civilian hospital they're guarding.
    [Jonathan P. Barnes, 21, Coweta OK; Wilfredo Perez Jr., 24, Norwalk CT; Daniel K. Methvin, 22, Belton TX]
  • A private first class is killed when his convoy is attacked by rocket-propelled grenades.
    [John Marshall Cheatham, 19, Camden AR]
  • A specialist is killed when his convoy is hit by a homemade bomb.
    [William J. Maher III, 35, Yardley PA]
  • A sergeant is killed when his vehicle goes off a road and rolls over.
    [Nathaniel Hart Jr., 29, Valdosta GA]
  • A private is killed when his vehicle is hit by a bomb.
    [Michael J. Deutsch, 21, Dubuque IA]
  • A specialist is shot in the head and killed by a stray bullet fired during a local Iraqi celebration.
    [James I. Lambert III, 22, Kenbridge VA]
  • A staff sergeant dies of a heart attack while on a mission in Kuwait.
    [David L. Loyd, 44, Jackson TN]
  • A specialist is killed when he falls from the top of a building while on guard duty.
    [Farao K. Letufuga, 20, Pago Pago, American Samoa]
  • A specialist is killed when he jumps out of a Hummer to fix a flat tire, and another vehicle spins out and hits him.
    [Ronald D. Allen Jr., 22, Mitchell IN]
  • A private first class who had survived being accidentally shot in the chest by a machine gun while riding in a truck in May shoots himself in the head with a confiscated revolver after loading it with one bullet and reportedly joking about playing Russian roulette.
    [Duane E. Longstreth, 19, Tacoma WA]
  • A private dies from the heat.
    [Matthew D. Bush, 20, East Alton IL]
  • A private first class suffers a fatal heat stroke while driving a truck.
    [David M. Kirchhoff, 31, Anamosa IA]
  • A private first class is killed when the Hummer on which he's a gunner flips over in the desert while chasing a suspicious vehicle near a military fuel convoy.
    [Brandon Ramsey, 21, Calumet City IL]
  • A staff sergeant is killed when a suspicious package dropped off at police headquarters explodes while he's inspecting it.
    [David S. Perry, 36, Bakersfield CA]
  • A specialist medic suffers a fatal stroke.
    [Craig S. Ivory, 26, Port Matilda PA]
  • A staff sergeant dies in his sleep from fluid buildup in his lungs.
    [Richard S. Eaton Jr., 37, Guilford CT]
  • A private first class is killed when he's thrown from a vehicle after the driver swerves to avoid an Iraqi motorist.
    [Daniel R. Parker, 18, Lake Elsinore CA]
  • A private first class is killed when a bomb hits his convoy.
    [Timothy R. Brown Jr., 21, Conway PA]
  • A sergeant is killed when his vehicle in a convoy hits a homemade bomb.
    [Taft V. Williams, 29, New Orleans LA]
  • A sergeant is killed when his armored personnel carrier is blown up by an anti-tank mine.
    [Steven W. White, 29, Fruitvale TX]
  • A lieutenant is shot to death while sitting in an SUV during a traffic jam, and the gunman escapes into a crowded market.
    [Kylan A. Jones-Huffman, 31, Aptos CA]
  • A private first class dies of smoke inhalation after a bullet ricochets during a training exercise and ignites a fire at an indoor shooting range.
    [Michael Scott Adams, 20, Spartanburg SC]
  • A private first class is killed by a gunshot wound to the chest in a non-combat incident.
    [Pablo Manzano, 19, Heber CA]
  • A specialist is killed when a homemade bomb hits his convoy vehicle.
    [Darryl T. Dent, 21, Washington DC]
  • A staff sergeant is killed when his convoy is hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.
    [Mark A. Lawton, 41, Hayden CO]
  • A sergeant is killed when the vehicle he's driving hits an embankment and rolls into a canal.
    [Sean K. Cataudella, 28, Tucson AZ]
  • A specialist is fatally injured when a civilian vehicle accidentally hits his truck.
    [Jarrett B. Thompson, 27, Dover DE]

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