In Case We Forgot, Americans Are Still Dying in Iraq

By the way, there are many American soldiers fighting in the Middle East.

In case you haven't noticed, they get killed. A lot of them get killed.

I was watching the endless television coverage of Israel and Hezbollah/Lebanon killing women and children, and then picking up the papers to read almost exclusively of the same thing. I found no picture on television and almost no mention in newspapers of Americans dying.

The dead babies of Lebanon and those dismembered by rockets in Israel are considered to be glorious distractions that allow our government to stroll the hallways that appear to have no blood on the floors.

I made a call to the Defense Department: "How are our soldiers doing lately?"

"We've had a bad month," the man responded.

"How bad?"

"Stay there and you'll see."

There now came faxes detailing American soldiers who died in Iraq since July 1. There have been 50 who died from then to August 6.

We list below who they are and where they are from, and the statistic that causes all to retch: their age.

We cannot list the entire number of dead in Iraq, for 2,583 Americans have been lost so far. And counting every day.

There also have been 19,270 wounded, with such injuries as legs blown off, young men with shattered backs being placed in wheelchairs for the rest of their lives, genitals lost, brains numbed by flying ball bearings, faces left in half by flames.

The television and newspaper coverage of this has been weak, lazy, fearful. What there is of it, you watch and read with clenched teeth.

Once, on HBO, they showed a young soldier on the table, and the whine of a saw sounded as it went through the bone of his leg being amputated. This should be on day and night.

The obligation of reporting is to tell and tell and tell of the deaths and great injuries of young Americans sent to die by old draft dodgers in Washington.

How old was the kid on the table? What could he be? Twenty-two?

He stayed the course in Iraq.

What did it get him? He lost a leg.

Just as he was in his great college appearances, Bush is a cheerleader for any war that can be fought with somebody else's kids.

"I grieve for the children of Beirut."

"My heart truly goes out to the people of Haifa."

The vice president, Dick Cheney, is a serial draft dodger: five deferments, a national record.

The strategy for the Middle East is to keep Israel and Hezbollah/Lebanon fighting. Keep all attention on them. If they ever stop, then everybody would look at Americans dying.

"We didn't know," Erin Tinsley, 37, was saying late Friday. "We didn't know what they were here for. Two military women."

Erin was in the hot 10th-floor hallway of the Alfred E. Smith houses on the downtown East Side. Two doors down from her lived the parents of Haiming Hsia, an Army specialist who died Tuesday in an explosion in in Iraq.

"The father let the military women in, and then when they came out, he stood there and seemed fine. I thought that they had brought an award for his son."

Erin said she didn't know how long afterward, an hour, maybe two, before the words of the Army officers exploded inside him. He collapsed, and on Friday, somebody from the family said that his wife, the soldier's mother, was unable to cope.

"President Bush took away my son, my only son," the mother had said.

Just this once, there was no poor, helpless family member saying that they were proud that their son had died in this war.

Don't ever say that the young man had died in vain, because that is the icy truth of Iraq that people often cannot handle.

"I grew up with him," Erin Tinsley was saying on Friday. "We went to PS 126 and IS 131. We used to run up and down the hall. Playing soldier. The last time I saw him was in April. He was home, but he said that he had to go back."

Spc. Hsia joined the Army because he couldn't make enough as a security guard to support a wife and baby. He spent three years in the Middle East and wanted to come home for good, but part of the secret of Iraq is that we don't have enough soldiers. He was ordered back.

This time Hsia was in Iraq for a month. Now he returns to the Alfred E. Smith houses in a box.

He is placed on the list with other U.S. soldiers who have died in Iraq from July 1 to Aug. 6:

CPL. PHILIP E. BAUCUS, 28, Wolf Creek, Mo. With 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. Died while conducting combat operations in Anbar province.

CPL. NATHANIEL S. BAUGHMAN, 23, Monticello, Ind. With 101st Airborne Division. Died of injuries sustained when his Humvee encountered enemy forces' rocket-propelled grenades during patrol operations in Bayji.

LANCE CPL. ANTHONY E. BUTTERFIELD, 19, Clovis, Calif. With 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. One of two Marines killed while conducting combat operations in Anbar province.

SPC. STEPHEN W. CASTNER, 27, Cedarburg, Wis. With Wisconsin Army National Guard. Died of injuries sustained when a roadside bomb detonated near his Humvee during combat operations in Tallil.

LANCE CPL. GEOFREY R. CAYER, 20, Fitchburg, Mass. With 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. Died in a nonhostile incident in Anbar province. The incident is under investigation.

SGT. ANDRES J. CONTRERAS, 23, Huntington Park, Calif. With 1st Combat Support Brigade. Died of injuries sustained when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device in Baghdad.

LANCE CPL. KURT E. DECHEN, 24, of Springfield, Vt. With 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. Died from wounds received while conducting combat operations in Anbar province.

STAFF SGT. MICHAEL A. DICKINSON III, 26, Battle Creek, Mich. With 4th Psychological Operations Group, U.S. Army Special Operations Command. Killed when his dismounted patrol encountered enemy forces' small-arms fire in Ramadi.

STAFF SGT. DUANE J. DREASKY, 31, Novi, Mich. With Michigan Army National Guard. Died at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio of injuries sustained when a roadside bomb detonated near his Humvee in Habbaniya.

STAFF SGT. JASON M. EVEY, 29, Stockton, Calif. With 2nd Brigade Combat Team. Died of injuries sustained when his Bradley Fighting Vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device during combat operations in Baghdad.

CPL. ADAM J. FARGO, 22, Ruckersville, Va. With 101st Airborne Division. Died of injuries sustained when his convoy encountered enemy forces' small-arms fire in Baghdad.

STAFF SGT. OMAR D. FLORES, 27, Mission, Texas. With 130th Engineer Brigade. One of three soldiers killed when a roadside bomb detonated near their Mine Protected Vehicle during combat operations in Ramadi.

SGT. ALKAILA T. FLOYD, 23, Grand Rapids, Mich. With 130th Engineer Brigade. Died at Landstuhl Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany, of injuries sustained when a roadside bomb detonated near his Mine Protected Vehicle in Ramadi.

SGT. JOSHUA A. FORD, 20, Wayne, Neb. With the Army National Guard 485th Corps Support Battalion. Died during combat operations in Al Numaniyah.

SPC. JOSEPH A. GRAVES, 21, Discovery Bay, Calif. With the 89th Military Police Brigade. Killed in action while conducting combat operations north of Baghdad.

PFC. JASON HANSON, 21, Forks, Wash. With 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. Died while conducting combat operations in Anbar province.

SGT. IRVING HERNANDEZ JR., 28, Manhattan. With 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team. Killed when he encountered enemy small-arms fire during combat operations in Mosul.

LANCE CPL. JAMES W. HIGGINS, 22, Frederick, Md. With 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. Died of wounds received during combat in Anbar province.

SGT. MANUEL J. HOLGUIN, 21, Woodlake, Calif. With 1st Armored Division. Died of injuries sustained when his dismounted patrol encountered enemy small-arms fire and a roadside bomb in Baghdad.

SPC. HAIMING HSIA, 37, Manhattan. With 1st Armored Division. Died Aug. 1 during combat operations in Ramadi.

SGT. RYAN D. JOPEK, 20, Merrill, Wis. With Army National Guard's 127th Infantry Regiment. Died in Tikrit of injuries suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his convoy.

PETTY OFFICER 2ND CLASS EDWARD A. KOTH, 30, Towson, Md. With Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Eight. Died after ordnance exploded during a disposal operation at Camp Victory.

SGT. DUSTIN D. LAIRD, 23, Martin, Tenn. With the Army National Guard's 46th Engineer Battalion. Died in Al Qaim of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat operations in Rawah.

PETTY OFFICER 2ND CLASS MARC A. LEE, 28, of Hood River, Ore. Lee was an aviation ordnanceman and a member of a West Coast-based SEAL Team. He was killed during combat operations while on patrol in Ramadi.

SPC. TROY C. LINDEN, 22, Detroit Lakes, Minn. With 130th Engineer Brigade. One of three soldiers killed when a roadside bomb detonated near their Mine Protected Vehicle during combat operations in Ramadi.

PFC. COLLIN T. MASON, 20, Staten Island. With 4th Infantry Division. Killed after encountering direct fire while manning a checkpoint in his vehicle in Taji.

SPC. JOSEPH P. MICKS, 22, Rapid River, Mich. With 130th Engineer Brigade. One of three soldiers killed when a roadside bomb detonated near their Mine Protected Vehicle during combat operations in Ramadi.

SPC. DAMIEN M. MONTOYA, 23, Holbrook, Ariz. With 4th Infantry. Died from a non-combat-related cause in Baghdad.

LANCE CPL. ADAM R. MURRAY, 21, Cordova, Tenn. With 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force. Died while conducting combat operations in Anbar province.

SGT. JUSTIN L. NOYES, 23, Vinita, Okla. With 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force. Killed while conducting combat operations in Anbar province.

STAFF SGT. PAUL S. PABLA, 23, Fort Wayne, Ind. With Indiana Army National Guard. Killed by small arms fire during combat operations in Mosul.

CAPT. CHRISTOPHER T. PATE, 29, Hampstead, N.C. With 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force. Died while conducting combat operations in Anbar province.

PFC. DEREK J. PLOWMAN, 20, Everton, Ark. With Arkansas Army National Guard. Died from a gunshot wound in Baghdad.

STAFF SGT. KENNETH I. PUGH, 39, Houston. With 4th Infantry Division. Died of injuries sustained when his M1A1 Abrams tank encountered enemy forces small arms fire in Baghdad.

CPL. JULIAN A. RAMON, 22, Flushing. With 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force. Died during combat operations in Anbar province.

CPL. TIMOTHY ROOS, 21, Cincinnati. With 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force. Died of wounds received while conducting combat operations in Anbar province.

CAPT. BLAKE H. RUSSELL, 35, Fort Worth, Texas. With 101st Airborne Division. Died of injuries sustained from enemy forces munitions while investigating a possible mortar cache during combat operations in Baghdad.

SPC. DENNIS K. SAMSON JR., 24, Hesperia, Mich. With 101st Airborne Division. Died of injuries sustained when he came under enemy small-arms fire in Taqaddum.

PFC. ENRIQUE C. SANCHEZ, 21, Garner, N.C. With 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force. Died while conducting combat operations in Anbar province.

SGT. 1ST CLASS SCOTT R. SMITH, 34, Punxsutawney, Pa. With 52nd Ordnance Group. Died of injuries sustained when a roadside bomb detonated near a controlled ordnance clearing mission in Iskandariya.

STAFF. SGT. CHRISTOPHER W. SWANSON, 25, Rose Haven, Md. With 1st Armored Division. Died of injuries sustained when his patrol encountered enemy forces using small-arms fire in Ramadi.

PETTY OFFICER 1ST CLASS JERRY A. THARP, 44, Aledo, Ill. With Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 25. Killed when his dismounted patrol was struck by a roadside bomb while operating in Anbar province.

CPL. JOSEPH A. TOMCI, 21, Stow, Ohio. With II Marine Expeditionary Force. Died while conducting combat operations in Anbar province.

SGT. THOMAS B. TURNER JR., 31, Cottonwood, Calif. With 101st Airborne Division. Died at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany, of injuries sustained when a roadside bomb detonated near his Bradley Fighting Vehicle in Muqdadiya.

SGT. GEORGE M. ULLOA JR., 23, of Austin, Texas. With II Marine Expeditionary Force. Died from wounds suffered while conducting combat operations in Anbar province.

SGT. MARK R. VECCHIONE, 25, Tucson, Ariz. With 1st Armored Division. Died of injuries sustained when a roadside bomb detonated near his M1A1 Abrams tank in Ramadi.

CPL. MATTHEW P. WALLACE, 22, Lexington Park, Md. With 4th Infantry Division. Died of injuries sustained when a roadside bomb detonated near his Bradley Fighting Vehicle during combat operations in Baghdad.

AIRMAN 1ST CLASS CARL JEROME WARE JR., 22, Glassboro, N.J. With 15th Security Forces Squadron. Died from a non-combat-related cause at Camp Bucca.

CAPT. JASON M. WEST, 28, Pittsburgh. With 1st Armored Division. Killed by enemy forces using small arms fire in Ramadi.

SGT. CHRISTIAN B. WILLIAMS, 27, Winter Haven, Fla. With 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. One of two Marines killed while conducting combat operations in Anbar province.

Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc. The article is reprinted with permission of the author.

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