Over 1,600 new names on war honor roll

By PAMELA HESS, UPI Pentagon Correspondent   |   May 27, 2005 at 9:16 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 27 (UPI) -- As Memorial Day approaches, at least 1,647 names of U.S. service personnel have been added to the rolls of those who gave their lives in service to the country in Iraq since the war's start in March 2003. At least 1,264 were killed by hostile fire.

The vast majority -- all but 109 of the 1,264 -- died after May 1, 2003, when U.S. President George W. Bush declared an end to major combat operations.

At least another 12,600 people have been wounded, about half of whom were too grievously injured to return to duty within three days, according to Pentagon statistics.

In Afghanistan and other Operation Enduring Freedom battlefields since October 2001 there have been 187 killed, 75 of them by hostile fire. There have been 159 wounded and returned to duty and 311 injured seriously.

More than 700,000 troops have rotated through Iraq or Afghanistan over the last four years, one-third to one-half of that total more than once. Army soldiers put in yearlong deployments and Marines serve for seven months at a time in country. Some forces are tapped for longer and some for shorter deployments. The military is trying to maintain a 1-1 ratio of time in the combat zone to time back home for training and rest.

The latest casualty from Iraq was announced Friday: A Marine was killed Thursday by a rocket-propelled grenade in Operation New Market, an offensive comprising about 1,000 Marines launched in Haditha in western Iraq, a way station on what the military calls a "rat line" of insurgents, weapons and funding connecting Baghdad to Syria across the unruly Anbar province.

At least 50 U.S. troops have died in May 2005, making it one of the bloodiest months for U.S. forces since the war began. A Web site that tracks official government releases about war casualties, icasualties.org, puts the number of U.S. dead in May at 67.

The last week marks the sixth consecutive week of increasing U.S. casualties, a reflection, according to the military, of the pressure they are putting on the Iraqi insurgency. They point out that enemy casualties are much higher, although exact numbers are hard to come by.

U.S. deaths in Iraq have spiked around key battles and significant dates in Iraq's occupation. In April 2004 there were two uprisings, one in Fallujah and one in Najaf. Battles there cost the United States 135 troops, and coalition partners -- primarily the United Kingdom -- another five. In November 2004 another battle waged in Fallujah to wrest it from insurgent control resulted in 137 U.S. deaths and four British deaths.

Violence spiked again in the weeks preceding the historic January 2005 election of a national assembly, claiming 107 Americans, 10 British and 10 other coalition soldiers. The level of violence dropped in the following months, but the May totals bring it back to an average of two to three U.S. deaths a day.

All told there have been at least 180 coalition casualties, according to icasualties.org.

The same group estimates that for every U.S. troop killed in Iraq in May, 4.6 Iraqi security force soldiers died. They are increasingly the targets of car bombs and enemy attacks.

According to the Pentagon, roughly half the deaths are the result of improvised explosive devices -- either roadside bombs or car bombs. Pentagon doctors also report because of improvements in troop and vehicle armor and battlefield medicine the number of those who die from their wounds is down from previous conflicts.

Military doctors have had to perform at least 428 amputations on the wounded so far, according to the Congressional Research Service. At least 20,000 troops -- including the approximate 6,000 with battle wounds -- have been medically evacuated out of Iraq, CRS reported in April. That number was current as of December 2004.

California has suffered the loss of 181 troops. Texas has lost 153. Pennsylvania has lost 76, Florida 72, Illinois 71 and Ohio 64.

During the Vietnam War at least 58,193 U.S. troops were killed, 47,406 of them in combat. During the Korean War, roughly 55,000 died, although 17,670 died outside the Korean theater.

The deadliest war for U.S. troops was the U.S. Civil War. About 3.2 million Americans served on either the Union or the Confederate side, and nearly 498,000 were killed.

World War II claimed roughly 406,000 Americans, according to U.S. Army statistics. World War I saw the deaths of 116,000.

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(Please send comments to nationaldesk@upi.com.)

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