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U.S. casualties in Afghanistan September 2012: A closer look

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This article was originally published at Madison Independent Examiner. There is a slideshow and video available for viewing there.


A woman mourns her loved one at Arlington national cemetary. Photo credit: Getty Images.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)

The words of Dr. McCrae, written in 1915 after witnessing the death of his friend, have as much relevance today as they did then. With 26 soldiers killed in September 2012, 18 of which were Americans, U.S. troop deaths in Afghanistan surpassed the 2000 mark. American troops are dying in Afghanistan at a pace that does not seem to register beyond their hometowns. So far this year, it is 31 per month on average, or one per day. National media attention is drawn, briefly, to grim and arbitrary milestones such as the 1,000th and 2,000th war deaths. But days, weeks and months pass with little focus by the general public or its political leaders on the individuals behind the statistics.

NBC called Afghanistan a "forgotten war" that "no one really cares" about, but there are hundreds of families who care and will never forget. It is a safe assumption that most Americans who have been paying attention to the news put forth by the corporate media in print and on national TV do not know how many service members died last month, and even fewer know their names. Whatever views one may have on the recent wars, military personnel who have made the ultimate sacrifice deserve more recognition than that.

If you cannot take the time to read about and recognize the sacrifice of each individual, then ask yourself if it was worth it for any one of these young people to give up their lives. Ignoring the wars does not make them go away. Only we the people can stop this insanity by demanding an end to these wars and the military presence in the Middle East.

To whom it may concern, here are their names and some information about each one of them:

Staff Sgt. Jeremie Shane Border. Age 28, Mesquite, Texas. Company A, 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group. Jeremie was one of two soldiers killed when enemy forces attacked their unit with small-arms fire in Batur village, Ghazni province, Afghanistan, on September 1, 2012.

Neighbor John Counts described Border as "A man of honor." He and others best remember him as a boy - a football player at Mesquite High School, where he was a member of the 2001 state championship team which recorded a perfect 15-0 season. Jeremie went on to play college football for four years at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas, where he earned a Bachelor's Degree in Sociology and Communications in 2006. Then he joined the Army, became a staff sergeant, and a Green Beret. His body arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Monday, September 3rd.

Staff Sgt. Jonathon Philip Schmidt, age 28, Petersburg, Virginia. 767th Ordnance Company, 192nd Ordnance Battalion, 52nd Ordnance Group, 20th Support Command. Jonathon died on September 1, 2012 in Batur, Afghanistan. He was one of two soldiers killed when enemy forces attacked their unit with small-arms fire in Batur village, Ghazni province, Afghanistan. Jonathan was an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed camping, hiking and fishing. He enjoyed cooking and entertaining with family and friends as well as working in his garage with his Harley and Excursion vehicles. Surviving him are his wife, Natalie M. (Lipsie) Schmidt, who he married Dec. 19, 2006, his son Aiden, his parents and numerous other relatives.

Spc. Kyle Robert Rookey, age 23, Oswego, New York. Company B, 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. Kyle died on September 2nd, 2012 in Jalalabad, Afghanistan as a result of a non-battle related injury. He loved to participate and work at the Renaissance Faire. He was involved in music starting in elementary school and continued all through High School. The U.S. flag that draped the casket was presented to Spc. Rookey's widow, Victoria Rookey, by General Anderson. Donations to a college fund for Kyle's daughter may be made payable to Flora Kyleigh Rookey in care of Carol Sue Akers, 112 Niagara St., Oswego, NY 13126. Kyle's video tribute can be viewed here.

Lance Cpl. Alec Robert Terwiske, age 21, Dubois County, Indiana. Inspector/Instructor Staff, 4th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, assigned to the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force. Alec died on September 3rd, 2012 following a roadside bomb attack in Helmand province, Afghanistan. In memorial, Governor Brown of California ordered that flags be flown at half-staff over the State Capitol on September 17th. Lance Cpl. Terwiske's family received a letter of condolence from the Governor.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jose Luis Montenegro Jr., age 31, Houston, Texas. F Troop, 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division. Jose died on September 5, 2012 in Pul-e Alam in Logar province Afghanistan. He was one of two soldiers killed when their OH-58D Kiowa Warrior reconnaissance helicopter crashed. Reyna Torres shook with tears at the Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery in Mission as Honor Guard soldiers carefully folded and handed her the flag from the casket of her son. "He was an all-around good guy," Chief Warrant Officer 2 Sean Byard said of Montenegro during the service. "He could be counted on or depended on when you needed someone to listen to, a shoulder to cry on, a drinking buddy or a wingman."

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Thalia Suzanne Ramiraz, age 28, San Antonio, Texas. F Troop, 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division. Thalia died along with Jose Montenegro on September 5th when their OH-58D Kiowa Warrior reconnaissance helicopter crashed near Pul-e Alam in Logar province, Afghanistan. An ex-Marine, Michael O'Donnell, posted this to Thalia's husband on her Guest Book page. "I cannot express the sorrow I feel in words. You were fortunate to have such an outstanding wife."

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http://www.examiner.com/independent-in-madison/gregory-patin

Gregory Patin is a free-lance writer residing in Madison, WI. He earned a BA in political science from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and a MS in IT management from Colorado Tech. He is politically independent and not affiliated with either (more...)
 

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