The Fallen: Remembering the Human Cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars

Today I read through and looked at the pictures of every American service member to die in harm’s way since last Memorial Day in this week’s Navy Times. When I looked at those pictures of men and women, officers and enlisted from every service and state, native born and immigrant alike, representing many races, religions and probably sexual preferences I was again reminded of the human cost. I knew or had served with a number of these people.  The sacrifice of our military is too often unappreciated.

There is a human cost to war. As I wrote yesterday it is a cost mainly borne by those that serve in the military, their families and those close to them. There are also civilian employees, both government and contractors that also share the cost of war. I have written about men that I have known that have died in harm’s way as well as others that have died while on active service, most recently Commander Marsha Hanly.

I think that in this interregnum between Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day that we remember the fallen.  They are too often forgotten in the politics and economics of war as are the men women and children non-combatants that die in the crossfire of war either to premeditated action by one or both sides or simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Washington Post has a section online called Faces of the Fallen http://apps.washingtonpost.com/national/fallen/ which shows the pictures of the servicemen and women killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn. 

Staff Sergeant Ergin Osman

I simply ask that readers spend some time there before Memorial Day to reacquaint ourselves with this cost, the real human cost of war. Just about a year ago a former Marine that I had served with at 3rd Battalion 8th Marines in 2000-2001 was killed in Afghanistan with 6 members of his platoon when they were ambushed with an Improvised Explosive Device while pursuing a Taliban leader. His name was Staff Sergeant Ergin Osman. he had left the Marines and then enlisted in the Army and was serving with the 101st Airborne Division when he was killed on May 26th 2011, one of over 2400 American Servicemen and women killed by IEDs.  I have lost other friends and comrades in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Iraq Afghanistan Veterans Association has a pledge to “Go Silent” on Memorial Day at 12:01 Eastern Standard Time to remember the 6433 servicemen and women who have fallen in Iraq or Afghanistan to date. One can pledge to do so in honor of a fallen Soldier, Sailor, Marine or Airman at their website http://iava.org/

In addition to Americans 593 British and 753 other non-Iraqi or Afghani coalition personnel have died in these wars. A further 468 contractors employed by the US military were killed in Iraq and 763 by Department of Labor count in Afghanistan as of March 31st 2011.  Nearly 50,000 more American military personnel have been wounded and this total does not include those with TBI or PTSD nor do the numbers killed reflect those that died by suicide following their time in Iraq or Afghanistan or those who died after they left the service due to disease, injury or psychological malady following their service in a combat zone. A well sourced listing of casualties can be found on the icasualties.org website http://icasualties.org/Iraq/index.aspx  Over 10,000 Iraqi Army, Police or Security Force personnel were killed fighting alongside US and Coalition forces. Numbers of civilians killed in Iraq and Afghanistan are estimated the hundreds of thousands.

Please take some time this week to remember the fallen as well as those wounded in body, mind and spirit during the last 10 years of war. I will be focusing on different aspects of these wars and wars past this week as we prepare to observe Memorial Day.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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2 Comments

Filed under iraq,afghanistan, Military, shipmates and veterans

2 responses to “The Fallen: Remembering the Human Cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars

  1. ironclad

    A thought comes to mind how long would ths stupid war last if those who cry for it and rattle their swords would have to go fight it themselves to this end we the average american must once again take away the wartoys that those in power play with…… the silent majority as during the Viet-Nam war has to rise and excercise the true power of the people
    I am sick of everybody whining about this endless meat grinder war that accomplishes nothing after 12 years??? do we really want this war to end????…..if so then MARCH on Washington organize take this message to the source take then the time to rally sit down in the streets do what the kids did back in 1967 68 69 march on the man look at the films of the anti-
    War movement learn from history blogging or posting from a computer web site is not enough organize and march a half a million people standing in front of the pentagon and on the mall would get my attention quick if the senators and house of represenatives start getting recall notices from their voting districts don’t you think that this war would quickly end??? Stop blogging start marching……… it is time to end this bull crap war

    • padresteve

      Unfortunately those that make their money off of the blood of American military personnel and our allies, who profit by looting our national treasure, and who have no regard for the inhabitants of unfortunate lands like Vietnam, Iraq and now Afghanistan will go on doing this until they themselves are forced to actually bear the burden of war. As Marine General Smedley Butler wrote “War is a Racket.” Peace and blessings, Padre Steve+

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