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Casualties Increase as Average Age of American War Dead FallsTim King Salem-News.com
Fighting in Afghanistan & Iraq Claims More American Servicemen.
(SALEM, Ore.) - More American deaths in Afghanistan have an obvious correlation to the increased tempo of the fighting there. In this report, 17 U.S. servicemembers have died between September 5th and September 14th, 2009.
September 8th was the worst day, with eight deaths recorded. Of the 17 American KIA's reported over the nine-day period, four were officers. Ten of the casualties were soldiers in the U.S. Army, five were Marines, one was in the Navy and one was an officer in the Air Force. All are male, one was a foreign national.
Many of these men are very young. Several were not on their first tour.
This report with five casualties reported out of Iraq, certainly puts the spotlight back on that conflict, one which Americans largely believe is "winding down", when in fact it is still very dangerous.
Four of the five soldiers killed in Iraq died as a result of combat. All of the deaths in Afghanistan were a result of contact with enemy forces.
The average age of this group of American forces killed overseas, is 23.3 years old. The average age of the troops killed in our last report, was 24.2. I referenced in that report on August 8th, 2009, that the age was gradually becoming lower as the months have passed. Some reports have contained data on individuals in their 50's, but we are seeing less of this.
Army Staff Sergeant Nekl B. Allen, 29, of Rochester New York, was killed September 12th in Wardak province, Afghanistan, when his vehicle was attacked by enemy forces using a roadside bomb and also small arms fire. Nekl Allen was riding with a second soldier, Specialist Daniel L. Cox.
Nekl Allen has been in the Army since May 2002. He had been stationed at Fort Drum in May 2008, before heading to Afghanistan for his third deployment.
Surviving S/Sgt. Allen are his wife and three children, and his parents. WNYF TV reports that over the course of his military service, he was awarded the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, and Air Assault Badge.
S/Sgt. Nekl B. Allen was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, New York.
Another soldier killed September 12th in Afghanistan's Wardak province is Army Specialist Daniel L. Cox, 23, of Parsons, Kansas. Along with S/Sgt.Nekl Allen, Daniel Cox died of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised-explosive device and small arms fire.
War is Hell they say, and it wears on the psyche of people who serve in combat. The trauma takes its toll along with the harsh conditions of living on a forward operating base, as both Daniel Cox and Nekl Allen did.
On his MySpace page, Daniel Cox revealed that he was depressed over the war, and at the very top he wrote, "Daniel is still here in hell. (I) can't wait to get back home so i can get the f*** out of the army." He also talks about the freezing place where he is based.
He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, New York.
Private first-class Matthew M. Martinek, 20, of DeKalb, Illinois, died September 11th at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany, of wounds suffered in Paktika province, Afghanistan, September 4th when enemy attacked his vehicle with an improvised-explosive device followed by a rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire.
Matthew Martinek was one of six soldiers who were wounded September 4th in Paktika province after their vehicle was crippled by a roadside bomb. The Alaskan Daily News reports that Pfc Martinek and the other soldiers were trying to get their vehicle going when they were struck by bursts of small-arms fire, and then a rocket-propelled grenade.
He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson, Alaska.
Sergeant 1st Class Duane A. Thornsbury, 30, of Bridgeport, West Virginia, died September 12th in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries sustained during a vehicle roll-over.
Duane Thornsbury went to Iraq as part of Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force - Arabian Peninsula, a news release stated. He was assigned to the Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) from Fort Carson, Colorado.
Duane joined the Army Reserve in April 1996, then switched over to the regular Army by September, 2002.
He was a graduate of the Army's Special Forces Qualification Course, and had worn the coveted Green Beret since becoming part of that group in 2006. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group, Fort Carson, Colorado. The Department of Defense reports that the circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation.
Sergeant Tyler A. Juden, 23, of Winfield, Kansas, died September 12 in Turan, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit using rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fires.
Sources report that he and other American soldiers, were killed during an orchestrated attack in the western part of the country. This attack included rocket propelled grenades and artillery fire. Tyler Juden's family told reporters that they believe their son was riding in a vehicle at the time of the attack, but they were not entirely sure in terms of specific information.
His parents, Bob and Reatha Juden, acknowledged that their son had been concerned about riding in vehicles when heading out on missions. His belief was that troops riding together in a transport vehicle, made an easy target for Taliban soldiers.
He was assigned to the 4th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
1st Lt. Tyler E. Parten, 24, of Arkansas, died September 10th in Kunar province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit using rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire.
Tyler Parten's mother, Lona Parten, told a reporter that her son graduated from West-Point and joined the military because he loved his country. She said he was more than a good US Soldier, "he's a man that took care of his troops." Parten added, "Today is 9-11 and without these guys we may not have our freedoms."
The Parten family says they are very proud of Tyler and his accomplishments.
He was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado.
Marine Lance Corporal Christopher S. Fowlkes, 20, of Gaffney, South Carolina, died September 10th from wounds sustained September 3rd while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
A newspaper reports that Chris' father and mother had gone to Germany on Monday to be at his side. His relatives, friends and neighbors, gathered at a Gaffney church Monday evening to pray for divine intervention. "One of our own has been hurt," Pastor Joseph James of Buford Street United Methodist Church, said.
He was assigned to 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Staff Sergeant Shannon M. Smith, 31, of Marion, Ohio, died September 8th in Baji, Iraq, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked the vehicle S/Sgt. Smith was traveling in, with an explosive device. This was the same vehicle occupied by Thomas Lyons and Zachary Myers.
Shannon Smith became part of the Arctic Military Police Battalion at Fort Richardson in Alaska, shortly after graduating from boot camp. He deployed to Iraq in May. Shannon Smith was a trained sniper who had numerous citations and decorations including: The Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Combat Action Badge, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the Iraq and Kosovo Campaign Medals.
He entered the Army in 1997, and became a Team Leader of the 178th Military Police Company, conducting several missions supporting the Secret Service Tac Team and Sniper Team with the President of the United States. In Iraq he was a Team Leader and Counter Sniper for the 89th MP, where he completed more than 500 protection missions in a combat environment.
S/Sgt. Shannon Smith was attached to the 545th Military Police Company, Arctic Military Police Battalion, U.S. Army, Alaska, Fort Richardson, Alaska.
Private first-class Thomas F. Lyons, 20, of Fernley, Nevada was in the same vehicle with Shannon Smith and Zachary Myers September 8th in Baji, Iraq, that was attacked by enemy forces using an explosive device.
On a tribute site, Breann Tapia of Phoenix, Arizona wrote, "Thomas was a great friend, brother, father, and hero. If you had a frown he made sure to turn it upside down. He was a great friend to me. I will miss his crazy self. To his family I wish you guys to up most strength because they have lost a big part of their family."
Thomas Lyons reportedly had planned to be a police officer when he returned home from Iraq. He is one of eight children. Delvin, Thomas' wife, is also an active duty soldier. Their son, Erik, was born May 25th 2009.
Pfc Lyons was attached to the 545th Military Police Company, Arctic Military Police Battalion, U.S. Army, Alaska, Fort Richardson, Alaska.
He was scheduled to come home this week on leave, but Private first-class Zachary T. Myers, 21, of Delaware, Ohio, was killed in the same event that claimed the lives of Shannon Smith and Zach Lyons. They were attacked with a type of bomb that becomes a projectile when detonated, on September 8th in Baji, Iraq. The soldiers were in their military vehicle when enemy forces attacked.
Zach Myers, a 2006 high school graduate, was an avid 4-wheeler. Sources report that he strongly believed that the men and women who served our country were true heroes, and he choose them as his inspiration to enlist in the military. He said he was honored to serve in their footsteps.
Private first-class Myers was attached to te 545th Military Police Company, Arctic Military Police Battalion, U.S. Army, Alaska, Fort Richardson, Alaska.
Sergeant Youvert Loney, 28, of Pohnpei, Micronesia, died September 5 in Abad, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his vehicle using small arms and recoilless rifle fires.
Sgt. Loney is the fourth war casualty from the Pohnpei region this year, and the 34th Micronesian to die while supporting U.S. wars since 2003.
As of Thursday, at least 746 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan as a result of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to the Defense Department.
He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado.
Marine Gunnery Sergeant Edwin W. Johnson Jr., 31, of Columbus, Georgia, is one of four Americans who died September 8th on combat operations in Afghanistan's eastern Kunar Province, near the border with Pakistan.
Reports indicate that Edwin Johnson was on a training mission with Afghan soldiers, searching a village for weapons and meeting village elders under an agreement to establish government authority there, when insurgents attacked from positions in the village and in the mountains on either side, attacking as the men reached the first compound.
Nine Afghans were killed. Eight were Afghan National Army soldiers, ane one was an interpreter attached to the Marines. Three Americans and 19 Afghans were wounded, according to an embedded McClatchy reporter, who was about 250 yards from the front when the ambush began.
Gunnery Sgt. Johnson was assigned to 3rd Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan.
Marine 1st Lieutenant Michael E. Johnson, 25, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, was killed while on patrol of three Marines and a Navy Corpsman in the Kunar Province of Afghanistan September 8th.
OregonLive reports that, "He was born in Virginia, but Michael E. Johnson's heart belonged to Oregon." Their reporters spoke to Michael's uncle, Greg Chase, who said, "He took to the state." "He was all about doing stuff outdoors, traveling around, hiking."
First Lt. Johnson's family and friends say the 25-year old Oregon State University graduate and fitness enthusiast loved to surf and to fish the rivers of Central Oregon -- which he would eventually have called Oregon home.
He is the 11th U.S. service member killed in Afghanistan in September and the 19th with Oregon ties to have died there since fighting began in 2001.
1st Lt. Johnson was assigned to 7th Communications Battalion, 3rd Marine Headquarters Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan.
The Ledger-Enquirer reports that Staff Sergeant Aaron M. Kenefick, 30, of Roswell, Georgia, is one of the four men killed September 8th in Afghanistan's Kunar Province, as they led a column that was moving into the small village of Ganjgal in eastern Kunar province, close to the Pakistan border.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an article relating the story of Aaron Kenefick. They spoke to his sister, Jade Myszka, who explained that she had a recent chance to talk to her brother on the telephone. She said he had just been injured on the battlefield, "he had to fight one last time. He went right back out,” she said
Aaron recently received a Purple Heart for the injury his sister mentioned; he had been hit by shrapnel. He was one of several Americans killed in Afghanistan September 8th. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Edwin W. Johnson Jr., 31, of Columbus, was also killed on the same day.
S/Sgt. Kenefick were assigned to 3rd Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Okinawa, Japan.
Petty Officer 3rd Class James R. Layton, 22, of Riverbank, California, is the Navy Corpsman attached to the Marines who were attacked and killed September 8th while leading a patrol into the village of small village of Ganjgal in eastern Kunar province, in an area close to the Pakistan border.
A McClatchy reporter was about 250 yards away from the attack, and reported that Petty Officer 3rd Class Layton apparently had been applying medical aid when he and Michael Johnson came under what was described as a fierce attack, Marine Corporal Dakota Meyer, 21, of Greensburg, Kentucky, told McClatchy Newspapers that when he and others approached the scene of the attack, they found, "the wrappings of bandages and other medical gear strewn around Layton and Johnson."
James Layton was assigned to an embedded training team with Combined Security Transition Command in Afghanistan.
Captain Joshua S. Meadows, 30, of Bastrop, Texas, died September 5th while supporting combat operations in Farah province, Afghanistan.
News 8 in Austin reports that this small Texas town of Elgin is mourning the loss of one their own. Elgin City Councilman, Chris Cannon told a reporter, "I lost a hero. To me Josh was a hero."
Another close family friend named Kay Silkerson, said she is also mourning the loss, "Anytime something like this happens, I think it brings awareness to the community about how short life can be and don't waste any of it," Silkerson said.
Captain Meadows was assigned to 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, Camp Pendleton, California.
1st Lieutenant Joseph D. Helton, 24, of Monroe Georgia, died September 8th near Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive devise.
"We'd like to express our deepest sympathy to family, friends and comrades of Lt. Joe Helton for their recent loss," Col. Lawrence Martin, commander of the 6th Air Mobility Wing, said in a statement posted on the MacDill Air Force Base's Web site. "We are deeply saddened by his loss and very proud of his service."
Joseph Helton graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2007, according to The Associated Press. Officials at the Academy say he is the 11th graduate killed while serving in Iraq.
Joseph Helton is also a 2003 graduate of Monroe Area High School, the Walton Tribune reported. He was assigned to the 6th Security Forces Squadron, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.
Recent stories on Americans who paid the ultimate price fighting in the wars overseas:
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.
Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines. Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), the first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several other awards including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website, affiliated with Google News and several other major search engines and news aggregators.
You can send Tim an email at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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