Names of the Dead
Last week I attended a lecture at UMass Lowell by BU Professor Andrew Bacevich who discussed his views of Washington and the US military. Bacevich’s harshest criticism was directed at how our country and its leadership handled the Iraq War. He said that unless someone knows someone in the military, most Americans are oblivious to the fact that we are at war. Never in the history of our country has our leadership simultaneously cut taxes and took the country into war as the Bush administration did. Not only were the vast majority of Americans not called on to personally sacrifice, we didn’t even have to pay for the war – the bill has been kicked down the road for future generations.
Before joining academia, Bacevich was a career Army officer who began his service in Vietnam. Tragically, his Army officer-son was killed in action in Iraq on May 13, 2007. Two weeks later, Bacevich published an Op-Ed in the Washington Post in which he outlined his reasons for opposing the Iraq War and concluded that he had not spoken out strongly enough:
In joining the Army, my son was following in his father’s footsteps: Before he was born, I had served in Vietnam. As military officers, we shared an ironic kinship of sorts, each of us demonstrating a peculiar knack for picking the wrong war at the wrong time. Yet he was the better soldier — brave and steadfast and irrepressible. I know that my son did his best to serve our country. Through my own opposition to a profoundly misguided war, I thought I was doing the same. In fact, while he was giving his all, I was doing nothing. In this way, I failed him.
At UMass Lowell, Bacevich did compliment one institution for not ignoring the wars cost. Each day, the New York Times publishes a small box called “Names of the Dead” in which is listed the name, rank, age, unit and home town of service members who were killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s a small thing, but given our societal amnesia about our ongoing wars, it’s an important thing.
Here are the US service members who were killed in action during this past week:
* BALDWIN, Robert F., 39, Maj., Army; Muscatine, Iowa; 101st Airborne Division.
* CALHOUN, Marvin R. Jr., 23, Sgt., Army; Elkhart, Ind.; 101st Airborne Division.
* LOONEY, Brendan J., 29, Lt., Navy; Owings, Md., SEAL team.
* McCLELLAN, Jonah D., 26, Chief Warrant Officer, Army; St. Louis Park, Minn.; 101st Airborne Division.
* McLENDON, David B., 30, Senior Chief Petty Officer, Navy; Thomasville, Ga.; Naval Special Warfare unit.
* MIRANDA, Denis C., 24, Petty Officer Third Class, Navy; Toms River, N.J.; SEAL team.
* POWELL, Joshua D., 25, Staff Sgt., Army; Pleasant Plains, Ill.; 101st Airborne Division.
* SMITH, Adam O., 26, Petty Officer Second Class, Navy; Hurland, Mo.; SEAL team.
* WAGSTAFF, Matthew G., 34, Chief Warrant Officer, Army; Orem, Utah; 101st Airborne Division.
* FLEMING, Scott J., 24, First Lt.; Marines; Marietta, GA; Third Marine Division
* GRIDER, Ronald A., 30, SFC, Army, Brighton, Ill.; Special Operations Command
* JOHNSON, Timothy L., 24, Specialist, Army, Randolph, NY; Fourth Infantry Division
* KRAMER, Aaron K., 22, Sgt, Army; Salt Lake City; 101st Airborne Division
* NEWMAN, Jaime C., 27, Staff Sgt., Army, Richmond, Va; 101st Airborne Division
* SANCHEZ, Daniel R., 23, Senior Airman, Air Force; El Paso; 23rd Special Tactics Squadron
* SNOW, Deangelo B., 22, Specialist, Army; Saginaw, Mich., 101st Airborne Division
* VIEYRA, Barbara, 22, Pfc. Army, Mesa, Ariz; 720th Military Police Battalion
* YATES, Eric, 26, First Lt., Army, Rineyville, Ky; 101st Airborne Division
* CARRON, Paul D., 33, Maj., Army; Second Stryker Cavalry
* HARTON, Joshua A., 23, Specialist, Army; Bethlehem, Pa.; 10th Mountain Division
7 Responses to Names of the Dead
Note the ages of these men and one woman. They are not 18 and 19 years old, although some of them may have been on their first tours in Afghanistan or Iraq. These are older persons who very likely have spouses and children. If war results from the failure of politics, some of us are personally experiencing and the rest of us are witnessing an enormous tragedy. That many human beings cannot resolve some conflicts without violence at this advanced stage of civilization is deeply disturbing. That religious conflicts are often the spark of violence is more troubling. It’s as if the prehistoric brain still controls the impulses of today’s humans…us. We are part of this. I recall protest signs around the time of the Iraq invasion. Marchers were holding placards that read: “Not in my name.” When our country is at war, we are a party to it. I understand Prof. Bacevich’s inner turmoil.
The only television news that continues to present the honor roll at the end of each broadcast is the PBS Newshour (as names and photos become available).
Six of them are special operation guys.
Nine come from the elite 101st Airborne Divsion.
If you want to read the numbers of K.I.A or W.I.A. go to http://www.icaualities.org
For about a year I charted the dead on an Excel Spreadsheet. Because of when it was, they were mostly from Iraq. As with this group their home addresses were mostly rural or small towns, although some listed the location of a military facility. A lot from the South and the great plains. At least one of the KIA was from American Samoa. And, as Paul notes, mostly a little older than we would expect.
They come from a fairly select group, in that those in uniform have a higher high school graduation rate than the nation overall. They are among the 25% of our youth who meet the weight, fitness and education requirements to serve in uniform. In contrast, during WWII about half the mail population of draft age served. The rest were mostly in defense related industries or on farms.
Would we (should we/could we) populate our military in a way other than the All Volunteer method? At this time my vote is no.
Regards — Cliff
“It’s as if the prehistoric brain still controls the impulses of today’s humans…us.”
That’s the crux of the problem with the whole human race. Our brains in a lot of ways aren’t much different from the brains of warring clans of cave dwellers, but our weapons can destroy cities, maybe the world.
Anger or rage, jealously, the desire to thrash an enemy, crush a threat, to believe that your tribe’s gods will prevail- probably haven’t changed much since Neanderthals.