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The Faces of Four Americans Killed in Iraq and AfghanistanSalem-News.com
Too many members of the military die without any fanfare whatsoever.
(SALEM, Ore.) - Four American soldiers have died over the course of the last eight days in Iraq and Afghanistan. For the first time, Salem-News.com was able to publish photos of all of the soldiers, adding a face to a name of those lost at war.
The soldiers all had active MySpace pages and anyone who would take the time to look at their pages, would see the full lives that each of these guys had.
For many Americans, it is easier to not hear, see or read these reports in the first place. They prefer an apathetic approach where ignorance is bliss.
This allows people to go on without worrying about the bitter conflicts the United States in involved in or knowing very much about the lives that are lost.
Media sources largely ignore what takes place in both combat theaters and they have been doing it for a long time. I could not get a single Portland, Oregon TV news station to buy my coverage of the Oregon Guard in Iraq last summer.
I was a correspondent from the war theater in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007 for the Portland FOX station, but interest in Iraq was ultimately zero. This lack of coverage has allowed Americans to remain very disconnected from the developments in both places that are both positive and negative.
We may never know anything about the people of Iraq and Afghanistan who die in the fighting, but thanks to social networking sites like MySpace, we have the opportunity to know something about them.
29-year old Raul Moncada of Madera, California, was obviously taken with his little girl. He has plenty of photos of them together doing all kinds of different family activities.
He had been in the Army for some time and he was a really devoted Dallas Cowboys fan. That wasn't it either, Raul has a whole photo album on his MySpace page featuring his photos from the Baseball Hall of Fame.
He had taken trips to places like New York City, Boston and San Francisco, each time taking great photos that are featured in albums on his MySpace site.
He looked great in his dress uniform and he had rows of ribbons representing his medals and military achievements.
Sergeant Raul Moncada died April 13th near Baghdad, Iraq.
His death was a result of wounds that he sustained when an explosive device detonated near his vehicle.
He was assigned to the 563rd Military Police Company, 91st Military Police Battalion, 10th Sustainment Brigade, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, New York.
21-year old "Rick" Dewater was really into riding his quad off road and he didn't hesitate to "go for air" on the big jumps.
Rick didn't just play guitar; he had an entire guitar collection, and he was sure to include photos of these awesome instruments on his site.
He captioned the photo album with guitars, "ahh, the collection....what would i do without it?"
In his own words, about himself, Rick said, "I like the outdoors. I fish, camp, paintball....all that cool outdoor stuff. I'm into cruisin around with my buddies around town, and gotta throw in some stupid s&%t from time to time, you know? Just stuff for a good laugh from time to time. I like playin my guitars too. been playing on and off a few years."
Private first class Richard A. Dewater of Topeka, Kansas, died April 15th from wounds sustained during a blast from an improvised explosive device.
He had been on a dismounted patrol near Korengal Valley, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.
Residents of Puerto Rico have served with distinction in all of the nation's military services and conflicts. I visited with different soldiers from Puerto Rico in Afghanistan and they related being happy and proud to serve and help the people there.
Corporal Francisco X. Aguila died April 14th in Kabul, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident.
This quotes about Corporal Águila appeared in the Fayetteville Observer: "Cpl. Aguila’s competence and leadership were critical to the success of Bravo Detachment’s mission," said Maj. James Dobrinska, executive officer for the 82nd Sustainment Brigade.
According to Daily Kost, Francisco Águila is survived by his wife and two daughters who live in Bayamón; a mother in the Levittown sector of Toa Baja; and a father who lives in the Bajadero area of Arecibo.
His death marked the loss of the 95th Puerto Rican military member who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan since the onset of the conflicts. That information comes from Madres Contra la Guerra, an island-based anti-war organization.
He was assigned to the 82nd Sustainment Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
The military reports that the circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation.
23-year old Mike Anaya of Crestview, Florida's nickname was the "ANAYALATOR".
He liked Hip Hop music and was proud of his home state. A photo on his MySpace page shows a new tattoo with "Florida" spelled down the outside of an upper arm.
He was close to his brother CJ and a cousin named Angie. He loved margaritas and the people he called his "Army family" as well as, of course, the rest of his family.
In Iraq he was close to Sgt. Keyes and a friend he referred to as "Holly".
In fact he has page after page of photos on his page that tell his story during his tour in Iraq.
Specialist Michael J. Anaya died April 12th in Bayji, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.
He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
Families of fallen military forces in the Pacific Northwest often have the services photographed by a friend of mine named Q Madp with IraqWarHeroes.org.
He cooperates with the family and does not charge them for photographing the solemn events. If and when the families agree, Q images of the services to our news organization and the Oregonian and Portland TV stations.
It isn't about celebrating the wars, it is about recognizing that these human beings are being lost in them. They are so much more than names in a passing newscast or print article.
Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor.
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