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Almost 50 U.S. Casualties in Iraq & Afghanistan Reported in JuneTim King Salem-News.com
14 members of the U.S. military have lost their lives in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait, between June 21st and June 29th 2009. They bring the total reported in June to 48, according to our numbers.
(SALEM, Ore.) - There has been little reprieve for American combat forces fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The serious business of war has been charging the United States interest, and casualties are mounting as Coalition forces vacate Iraq's larger cities and increasingly patrol Afghanistan's hostile environments.
The fallen represent a broad cross-section of American culture and they hail from all over the country. The average age of this group is 28. There are no female servicemembers listed and all of those killed are soldiers in the U.S. Army.
The Department of Defense released information today about the death of four soldiers in Iraq. They died from wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle June 29th, in Baghdad, Iraq. The soldiers were assigned to the 120th Combined Arms Battalion, Wilmington, North Carolina.
Sergeant 1st Class Edward C. Kramer, 39, of Wilmington, North Carolina was killed in the attack.
The News Observer reports the North Carolina National Guard commander Maj. Gen. William E. Ingram Jr. saying, "The North Carolina National Guard and the people of our state mourn today with the families of these fine soldiers."
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Edward C. Kramer's remains were brought back to the United States aboard a C-17 that landed at Dover Air Force Base July 1st 2009 in Dover, Delaware.
Sergeant Roger L. Adams Jr., 36, of Jacksonville, North Carolina also died when the IED exploded near the soldiers.
The death of Roger Adams and the other three soldiers June 29th, bring the death toll to 15 among North Carolina National Guard soldiers since September 11th 2001.
In the past National Guard soldiers were kept in the United States during time of conflict. These soldiers exemplify the policy developed under the leadership of former President George W. Bush, to increasingly send "citizen soldiers" into the war zones in increasing numbers. Bush was a national guardsman who was not sent to the Vietnam War during his term of service.
Sergeant Juan C. Baldeosingh, 30, of Newport, North Carolina, lost his life in the explosion that day.
Of these soldiers, Ingram was quoted saying, "The Guard is a very close-knit organization, and the loss of these brave men will leave a lasting impact on us all."
Four North Carolina National Guard soldiers were killed in Baghdad on the last day of regular combat operations for U.S. forces in Iraqi cities, the military said Thursday.
Specialist Robert L. Bittiker, 39, of Jacksonville, North Carolina was also killed in the attack in Baghdad.
Local ABC station WTVD reported North Carolina National Guard commander Maj. Gen. William E. Ingram Jr. saying, "the people of our state mourn today with the families of these fine soldiers."
In the days preceding the attack on the four North Carolina soldiers, Iraq was the scene of several bombings. Among these have been two of the deadliest in over a year. The blasts claimed more than 150 lives and spiked fears that militants will take advantage of the U.S. withdrawal and increase attacks.
Sergeant Terry J. Lynch, 22, of Shepherd, Montana, died June 29th in Wardak Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.
In July of 2005 at the age of 18, Terry Lynch was quoted in a July 2005 Gazette story saying, "I wanted to give back to my country." He made the statement as he and other Army recruits were sworn in by Army Gen. Peter Schoomaker. He told reporters that it made him feel proud to take part in the Fourth of July ceremony in Cody, Wyoming that year. It was just days before he left for basic training.
He was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, New York.
Staff Sergeant Timothy A. David, 28, of Gladwin, Michigan, died June 28th in Sadr City, Iraq, of wounds suffered earlier in Baghdad, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.
His friend Crystal wrote, "You are missed by many my sweet! I will never forget the wonderful times we shared. RIP."
Another friend named Kimberly wrote, "My life is brighter because I knew you, dimmer knowing you're not here anymore. You're missed and loved more than you'll ever know. Rest in Peace, Timmy."
He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.
Private first-class Peter K. Cross, 20, of Saginaw, Texas, died June 26th at Combat Outpost Carwile, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained during a vehicle roll-over. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, New York.
One of his close friends said of his death, "I'll miss you. I'm proud to call you my friend and brother in Christ. I'm sorry I didn't get out to see you before you left. I wish we could have done the photo shoot we had been talking about."
The circumstances surrounding the death of Pete Cross are under investigation.
Private first-class Steven T. Drees, 19, of Peshtigo, Wisconsin, died June 28th at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, in Landstuhl, Germany, of injuries sustained June 24th in Konar Province, Afghanistan, when insurgents attacked his unit using small arms fire and a rocket-propelled-grenade launcher.
His friend Nina wrote, "Rest in peace soldier boy. You impacted my life in a way i don't even think you realized. You were an amazing man and a hero at heart. I knew from the start, from every conversation we had that you were meant for something bigger. You'll never be forgotten Steven and I'll think of you every day. A hero at heart and now an all American hero. I miss you soldier boy. Watch over everyone from up above as you always did while you were by our sides."
Steve Drees was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado.
Specialist Joshua L. Hazlewood, 22, of Manvel, Texas, died June 25th in Arifjan, Kuwait, of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident.
His relative Pamla Pearson of Houston, Texas, wrote on a tribute page, "It was so sad to hear of my cousin, Joshua's sudden passing. He will be forever in our hearts and memories."
This was written to Josh's family by Judy Spell of Manvel, Texas, "Jodie I am saddened by your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with your family. I feel proud to have known Joshua. I thank him for serving our great country and dying so we could continue to live free."
He was assigned to the 614th Automated Cargo Documentation Detachment.
The government says the circumstances surrounding the death of Josh Hazlewood, are under investigation.
1st Lieutenant Brian N. Bradshaw, 24, of Steilacoom, Washington, died June 25th in Kheyl, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.
A News Tribune article references Brian's dad Paul Bradshaw, when he said his son Brian joined the Army and went to Afghanistan "to try and help people" and to make the lives of the people there better.
"He could make people feel better," his father said as he and his wife Mary were in the process of leaving their Steilacoom home to fly to Dover Air Force Base for the arrival of their son’s body back in the United States. They said, "That was his hope. He didn’t go to win a war." Brian Bradshaw is a 2007 graduate of Pacific Lutheran University.
He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson, Alaska.
Specialist Casey L. Hills, 23, of Salem, Illinois, died June 24th in Iraq of injuries sustained during a vehicle roll-over. He was assigned to the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment, Pago Pago, American Samoa.
On Casey's MySpace page his friend Kristen wrote, "Hey bub! It has been a great time growing up with you! You were always able to make me laugh and knew how to have a good time! You will be missed very much! You are definitely a hero! Love you!"
His final words to the world on the site were, "Back to Iraq, not many more missions to do."
The circumstances surrounding the death of Casey Hills are under investigation, according to the DoD.
Two soldiers were killed June 21st in Bagram, Afghanistan, after their unit came under an indirect fire attack. Bagram is the setting for the opening scene in the movie "Ironman."
Sergeant Ricky D. Jones, 26, of Plantersville, Alabama was killed in the attack. Bagram is a major air base used by U.S. and Coalition forces.
His friend Zo wrote on MySpace, "Gone but never forgotten, my man for Life and Death. One Love."
Another friend wrote, "I'm at a lost for words and the pain hurts so bad. I've lost a friend but someone gained a guardian angel. I love you homie and I will always keep you in my heart. DAMN!!!!!!!!!!!....Its cant be real. Someone wake me up from this nightmare. I dont know why I keep coming by this page...Part of me wants you to be ONLINE so I can say I love ya'"
And yet another said, "To the offsprings of the great Ricky Jones go through life knowing you have the greatest Father any child could want and no matter living or gone he will make sure you are taken care of. Your wants are you wants but your needs will be met by a Battalion of loved ones here to support every dream and aspiration your great father, Ricky Jones had for you."
He was assigned to the 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Fort Polk, Louisiana.
Sergeant Rodrigo A. Munguia Rivas, 27, of Germantown, Maryland also died in the indirect fire attack.
He was assigned to the 710th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, New York.
According to Wikipedia, "indirect fire means aiming and firing a gun without relying on a direct line of sight between the gun and its target, as in the case of direct fire." In this case, "Aiming is performed by calculating azimuth and elevation angles, and may include correcting the fall of shot by observing it and calculating new angles."
1st Sergeant John D. Blair, 38, of Calhoun, Georgia, died June 20th in Mado Zayi, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when a rocket-propelled grenade struck his vehicle.
He was an Army National Guardsman assigned to the 1st Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment, Lawrenceville, Georgia.
Stars and Stripes Reporter Dianna Cahn describes the events of June 20th: "The gunner’s weapon was blazing over Staff Sgergeant Timothy Bellinger’s head. He jumped from window to window of his armored vehicle, trying to make out the battle that 1st Sergeant John Blair was fighting in the gunner’s position above him. Bellinger felt the strike of a rocket-propelled grenade as it tore through the turret. He heard Blair’s gun cease firing. He saw the body of a man who always pushed his guys to do it right, slump lifelessly in the belt."
"'Right before this, he said to me 'I love you, brother. Take care of yourself. Be safe,'" said a long time friend, Sergeant Ryan Popejoy [who was in a vehicle next to Blair’s and saw the incident], fingering a few spent gun rounds that had fallen in his pocket. "He went out with his boots on and his guns blazing."
"He pushed me to a point where I didn’t think I can be. If it wasn’t for him, I never would have gone to Ranger school. Now that he’s gone, it’s the only thing I know how to do. He used to tell us that integrity was the checks and balances in life. You don’t ever give up. You don’t ever stop. As long as you believe that you are doing the right thing, you won’t be wrong," said Specialist Robert Love, 22.
"He was proud of his country, proud of the guys he served with," Love said. "Before we got on the bus, he said, ‘I don’t think I could ask to go with a better group of guys.’ I don’t think he doubted one person here. He believed in us. God, I am gonna miss him. I miss him already. But we are going to wake up, put our boots on and do what we came here to do. Old Charlie Mike, as they say. Continue Mission."
My thought after spending many hours composing this sad but important story, is that the U.S. Army is the backbone of the American military. I served in the Marines and I have been with soldiers and Marines on combat patrols in Iraq and Afghanistan as a photographer/reporter, and I have to say that the Army is the group that pays the highest dues.
It isn't to slight any other service, and in these wars we never go long enough between reports about Navy, Marine and Air Force casualties either. But it is the Army that goes on and on and those who select this military organization are brave individuals who serve with a high degree of honor. Most Marines and former Marines don't get to spend months with the U.S. Army at war as I have, and I appreciate having this insight.
For our recent casualty reports, visit these links:
From June 2nd 2009: War Casualties Mounting in Iraq & Afghanistan - Tim King Salem-News.com
From May 11th 2009: Five Americans Killed in Baghdad by Fellow U.S. Army Soldier - Salem-News.com
From May 5th 2009: Two California Soldiers Killed in Iraq - Tim King Salem-News.com
From April 20th 2009: The Faces of Four Americans Killed in Iraq and Afghanistan - Salem-News.com
From April 12th 2009: Five Soldiers Killed by VBIED in Iraq Among Latest Casualties - Tim King Salem-News.com
From April 7th 2009: More Casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq - Tim King Salem-News.com
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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