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
- A sergeant is killed when he falls off a ladder and his M–4 rifle accidentally discharges.
[Sean C. Reynolds, 25, East Lansing MI]
- A private first class is killed by a sniper while directing traffic on a Baghdad bridge.
[Marlin T. Rockhold, 23, Hamilton OH]
- Two chief warrant officers and a corporal are killed when their Black Hawk air medical helicopter snags a power line and crashes into the Tigris River while on a rescue mission.
[Brian K. Van Dusen, 39, Columbus OH; Hans N. Gukeisen, 31, Lead SD; Richard P. Carl, 26, King Hill ID]
- A lance corporal is killed in Kuwait when a heavy LVS transport vehicle slams into his pickup.
[Cedric E. Bruns, 22, Vancouver WA]
- A lance corporal is killed in Kuwait when his Hummer hits a parked trailer.
[Matthew R. Smith, 20, Anderson IN]
- A lance corporal and a private first class are killed when ordnance they are handling explodes.
[Jakub Henryk Kowalik, 21, Schaumburg, IL; Jose Franci Gonzalez Rodriguez, 19, Norwalk CA]
- 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 specialist is killed when his vehicle rolls over en route to a civilian call.
[Nathaniel A. Caldwell, 27, Omaha NE]
- A private is killed in an explosion while providing security at an Iraqi ammo dump.
[David Evans Jr., 18, Buffalo NY]
- 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 sergeant and a staff sergeant are shot to death on checkpoint guard duty by the occupants of a vehicle.
[Thomas F. Broomhead, 34, Fort Myers FL; Michael B. Quinn, 37, Tampa FL]
- 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 sergeant on an escort mission is killed when his vehicle hits a curb and rolls over.
[Travis L. Burkhardt, 26, Edina MO]
- A petty officer third class dies of a heart attack.
[David Sisung, 21, Phoenix AZ]
- A petty officer third class is killed when ordnance is accidentally detonated in a construction area.
[Doyle W. Bollinger Jr., 21, Poteau OK]
- 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 specialist drowns while swimming in a lake in a palace compound.
[John K. Klinesmith Jr., 25, Stockbridge GA]
- A private first class is killed by a “non-combat weapons discharge.”
[Ryan R. Cox, 19, Derby KS]
- A private is shot to death by a sniper.
[Shawn Pahnke, 25, Shelbyville IN]
- A specialist dies of a “self-inflicted” Tylenol overdose.
[Joseph D. Suell, 24, Lufkin TX]
- A sergeant dies of pneumonia.
[Michael L. Tosto, 24, Apex NC]
- A private is killed by a grenade thrown over a wall while he’s on guard duty.
[Robert L. Frantz, 19, San Antonio TX]
- 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 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 specialist is shot to death while investigating a car theft.
[Richard P. Orengo, 32, Toa Alta PR]
- A specialist dies in Kuwait of breathing difficulties.
[Cory A. Hubbell, 20, Urbana IL]
- A sergeant is fatally injured when his vehicle is hit by a bomb blast.
[Timothy M. Conneway, 22, Enterprise AL]
- A navy corpsman assigned to the marines dies from a “non-hostile” gunshot wound.
[Joshua McIntosh, 22, Kingman AZ]
- 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 sergeant is killed in a traffic accident.
[Christopher D. Coffin, 51, Kennebunk ME]
- A corporal is killed in an explosion during a mine-clearing operation.
[Travis J. Bradach-Nall, 21, Portland OR]
- A sergeant is shot and killed while raiding a house.
[David B. Parson, 30, Kannapolis NC]
- A specialist is shot to death by an unidentified gunman while guarding high-ranking officials on the Baghdad University campus.
[Jeffrey M. Wershow, 22, Gainesville FL]
- A specialist is killed on patrol by a roadside bomb.
[Chad L. Keith, 21, Batesville IN]
- A staff sergeant dies from a non-combat gunshot wound.
[Barry Sanford Sr., 46, Aurora CO]
- A sergeant first class dies of a heart attack while eating with his unit in Kuwait.
[Craig A. Boling, 38, Elkhart IN]
- A private dies after collapsing from a heat stroke in mid June.
[Robert L. McKinley, 23, Kokomo IN]
- A specialist dies of pneumonia after falling ill the previous month.
[Joshua M. Neusche, 20, Montreal MO]
- 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 specialist is killed when a passing truck explodes.
[Ramon Reyes Torres, 29, Caguas PR]
- 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]
- Two sergeants are killed when their vehicle on patrol in a village is ambushed by rocket-propelled grenades.
[Jason D. Jordan, 24, Elba AL; Justin W. Garvey, 23, Townsend MA]
- A sergeant first class is killed when his vehicle rolls over.
[Christopher R. Willoughby, 29, Phenix City AL]
- A master sergeant dies of a brain aneurysm in Doha, Qatar.
[David A. Scott, 51, Union, OH]
- 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 is killed when his convoy is attacked by rocket-propelled grenades.
[Brett T. Christian, 27, North Royalton OH]
- A captain is killed when his convoy hits a bomb.
[Joshua T. Byers, 29, Fountain CO]
- A private first class, a corporal, and a staff sergeant are killed when their convoy is ambushed.
[Raheen Tyson Heighter, 22, Bay Shore NY; Evan Asa Ashcraft, 24, West Hills CA; Hector R. Perez, 40, Corpus Christi TX]
- A sergeant is killed while changing a tire when a Hummer falls on his head.
[Juan M. Serrano, 31, Manati PR]
- 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 sergeant is killed on patrol by rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire.
[Heath A. McMillin, 29, Canandaigua NY]
- 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 first lieutenant is killed by hostile fire.
[Leif E. Nott, 24, Cheyenne WY]
- A specialist is killed on patrol when his vehicle is hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.
[Justin W. Hebert, 20, Arlington WA]
- 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 specialist dies of pneumonia and leukemia.
[Zeferino E. Colunga, 20, Bellville TX]
- A staff sergeant and a private are shot to death in an ambush.
[Brian R. Hellerman, 35, Freeport MN; Kyle C. Gilbert, 20, Brattleboro VT]
- A sergeant dies of a heat-related seizure.
[Leonard D. Simmons, 33, New Bern NC]
- 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 sergeant dies from the heat.
[Floyd G. Knighten Jr., 55, Olla LA]
- A specialist dies in his sleep, possibly from heat stress.
[Levi B. Kinchen, 21, Tickfaw LA]
- 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 specialist is killed when his vehicle runs over a homemade bomb.
[Eric R. Hull, 23, Uniontown PA]
- A specialist is killed in a traffic accident.
[Kenneth W. Harris Jr., 23, Charlotte, TN]
- A staff sergeant is killed when a homemade bomb explodes near his vehicle.
[Bobby C. Franklin, 38, Mineral Bluff GA]
- A cook specialist is killed by a “non-hostile” gunshot wound.
[Stephen M. Scott, 21, Lawton OK]
- A private first class drowns after jumping into the Euphrates River to take a swim.
[Vorn J. Mack, 19, Orangeburg 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 specialist is killed when a homemade bomb hits his vehicle in Fallujah.
[Rafael L. Navea, 34, Pittsburgh PA]
- A sergeant is killed when a homemade bomb hits his vehicle in Hallia.
[Gregory A. Belanger, 24, Narragansett RI]
- A lieutenant colonel dies of a heart attack.
[Anthony L. Sherman, 43, Pottstown PA]
- 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]
Continue: September 2003 – March 2004.
* Sources: Pentagon press releases, the Associated Press, militarycity.com, CBS News, lunaville.org, The Washington Post, The San Diego Union-Tribune, Chicago Tribune, and other newspapers and websites, including those of military units. Ranks do not necessarily take account of posthumous promotions. Many of the deaths are still being investigated or their circumstances are in dispute. The list is current as of March 22, based on information available to the Voice.