All too real

Wednesday, February 2, 2005

It is easy to become numbed by the nightly reports of deaths and injuries in the Iraq war. When the casualty is someone we know, the war becomes more than a collection of impersonal statistics.

As verbal accounts and letters to the editor attest, Nathan Schubert was a much beloved young man before his death in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26.

The cost of war and the sacrifices made are now understood in a way they hadn't been before.

Last year, a member of the Armed Forces, stationed in Europe, sent a clipping from Stars and Stripes, the newspaper of the military. It contained a daily column listing deaths in Iraq. We ran the column one day in this space as part of an editorial, counting the human toll of the war.

Here is an Associated Press report from Jan. 28:

As of Friday, at least 1,423 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. At least 1,087 died as a result of hostile action, the Defense Department said. The figures include three military civilians.

The AP count is 12 higher than the Defense Department's tally, last updated at 10 a.m. EST Friday.

The British military has reported 76 deaths; Italy, 20; Poland, 16; Ukraine, 16; Spain, 11; Bulgaria, seven; Slovakia, three; Estonia, Thailand and the Netherlands, two each; and Denmark, El Salvador, Hungary, Latvia and Kazakhstan one death each.

Since May 1, 2003, when President Bush declared that major combat operations in Iraq had ended, 1,285 U.S. military members have died, according to AP's count. That includes at least 978 deaths resulting from hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

The latest deaths reported by the military:

Three soldiers were killed Friday when an explosive hit their patrol in western Baghdad.

A soldier was killed Friday by an explosive in southern Baghdad.

A soldier was killed Friday by small arms fire in northern Baghdad.

The latest identifications reported by the Defense Department:

Marine Cpl. Jonathan S. Beatty, 22, Ottawa, Ill.; died Thursday from hostile action in Babil province, Iraq; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Army Pfc. Kevin M. Luna, 26, Oxnard, Calif.; died Thursday in Muqdadiyah, Iraq, from non-combat injuries; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, Vilseck, Germany.

Army Spc. Taylor J. Burk, 21, Amarillo, Texas; died Wednesday in Baghdad, from an explosive; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Killed Wednesday in a helicopter crash near Rutbah, Iraq; assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Base, Hawaii:

Marine Staff Sgt. Brian D. Bland, 26, Weston, Wyo.

Marine Sgt. Michael W. Finke Jr., 28, Huron, Ohio

Marine 1st Lt. Travis J. Fuller, 26, Granville, Mass.

Marine Cpl. Timothy M. Gibson, 23, Merrimack, N.H.

Marine Cpl. Richard A. Gilbert Jr., 26, Montgomery, Ohio

Marine Cpl. Kyle J. Grimes, 21, Northampton, Pa.

Marine Cpl. Stephen P. Johnson, 24, Covina, Calif.

Marine Lance Cpl. Fred L. Maciel, 20, Spring, Texas

Marine Cpl. Nathaniel K. Moore, 22, Champaign, Ill.

Marine Lance Cpl. Gael Saintvil, 24, Orange, Fla.

Marine Cpl. Nathan A. Schubert, 22, Cherokee, Iowa

Marine Lance Cpl. Michael L. Starr Jr., 21, Baltimore.

The list of the dead has become, to many, just names of people from other parts of the country, valiant warriors who died to help bring freedom and democracy to a former enemy.

That all changed on Jan. 26, with the inclusion of the second to the last name on the list, Nathan Schubert, who was just a day away from turning 23 when he died.

We can only offer our sincere condolences and grateful thanks for your service, Corporal Schubert.

God speed.