Ultimate sacrifice honored this day

Since May 2003, seven U.S. Army and Navy (Navy corpsman assigned to the U.S. Marine Corps) military personnel have been killed in the line of duty while serving in Iraq and/or Afghanistan who had ties to Mohave County.

The most recent is 25-year-old U.S. Army Sergeant Brian Walker, who paid the ultimate price on May 13, 2012, when his life was cut short while serving our great nation in Afghanistan.

Sgt. Walker, a native of Lucerne Valley, Calif., died when the vehicle he was a passenger in was hit by an improvised explosive device, killing him and Private First Class Richard L. McNulty, 22, of Rolla, Mo., and wounding three other soldiers.

Walker, who was married to Kingman High School graduate (Class of 2008) Ashley Caswell-Walker, had planned on residing in Kingman after his combat tour of duty in Afghanistan was completed.

U.S. Army Staff Sergeant William T. Latham, a 29-year-old from Kingman, was wounded May 18, 2003, while taking part in a raid near the Syrian border by a freak ricochet from his own cavalry troop's fire. Latham was evacuated back to Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C., where he died June 19, 2003. Latham joined the Army after his junior year at Kingman High School and was assigned to Eagle Troop, 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Regiment.

U.S. Navy Hospitalman Joshua McIntosh, a 22-year-old from Kingman, died June 26, 2003 in Karbala, Iraq, of a non-hostile gunshot wound. McIntosh was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment at the Marine Air Ground Combat Center.

U.S. Army Private First Class Patrick Tinnell, a 25-year-old from Lake Havasu City, died in As Siniyah, Iraq, on April 19, 2006, when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated during a dismounted combat patrol. Tinnell was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

U.S. Army Specialist Coty J. Phelps, a 20-year-old from Kingman, died May 17, 2007, in Iskandariya, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Two other soldiers were also killed in the blast. Phelps was assigned to the 725th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson, Alaska.

U.S. Army soldier Anthony J. Sausto, a 22-year-old from Lake Havasu City, died May 10, 2007, in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered from enemy small arms fire. Sausto was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.

U.S. Navy Hospitalman Dustin Kelby Burnett, a 19-year-old from Fort Mohave and a graduate of Mohave High School in Bullhead City, died June 20, 2008, while conducting combat operations in Farah Province, Afghanistan when a roadside bomb exploded. Burnett was assigned to First Marine Division Detachment, Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is Monday and many who are enjoying the time off from work aren't aware of exactly why the holiday is so important to our country.

Memorial Day honors members of the military who died in service to their country as a result of battlefield injuries and hostile actions.

It has been conservatively estimated that at least 587,982 military personnel have died as a result of hostile action during conflicts and wars the U.S. was involved in. A hostile casualty is a person who is the victim of a terrorist activity or who becomes a casualty in combat action. The 587,921 figure includes deaths for:

• American Revolutionary War (1775-1783) - 4,435 deaths.

• War of 1812 (1812-1815) - 2,260.

• Mexican War (1846-1848) - 13,283 of which 1,733 were combat related.

• Civil War (1861-1865, Union Troops) - 364,511 of which 140,414 were combat related.

• Civil War (1861-1865, Confederate Troops) - authoritative statistics for the Confederate forces are not available. It is estimated that the number of Americans who served with the Confederate forces range from 600,000 to 1,500,000.

The final report of the Provost Marshal General, 1863-1865, indicates 133,821 Confederate deaths (74,524 battle and 59,297 other) based upon incomplete information. In addition, an estimated 26,000 to 31,000 Confederate personnel died in Union prisons.

• Spanish-American War (1898-1901) - 2,446 of which 385 were combat related.

• WWI (1914-1918) 116,516 of which 63,114 were combat related.

• WWII (1941-1946) - 405,399, of which 291,557 were combat related.

• Korean Conflict (1950-1953) - 36,574, of which 33,739 were combat related.

• Vietnam Conflict (1960-1973) - 58,220, of which 47,434 were combat related.

• Iranian Rescue Mission (April 25, 1980) - eight died, but they are not directly combat related.

• Lebanon Peacekeeping (Aug. 25, 1982-Feb., 26, 1984) - 265 of which 256 were combat related.

• Urgent Fury, Grenada (1983) - 19 of which 18 were combat related.

• Just Cause, Panama (1989) - 23 combat related deaths.

• Persian Gulf War (1990-1991) - Desert Shield and Desert Storm - 383 of which 148 were combat related.

• Restore Hope and Unosom-Somalia (1992 - 1994) - 43, of which 29 were combat related.

• Uphold Democracy, Haiti (1994-1996) - four died, but not actually from direct combat.

• Islamic terrorists' three-pronged aircraft attack on the United States (Sept. 11, 2001) - causing the deaths of about 3,000 people of which 55 military personnel died in the attack on the Pentagon.

• Afghan War (2001-2014) - 2,215 of which 1,832 died as a result of combat during Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan only).

• Iraq War (2003-2011) and Iraq Civil War (2014-present) - 4,411 died during Operation Iraqi Freedom of which 3,481 were combat related.

• Operation New Dawn (2010-2011) - 73 died of which 38 were combat related. Operation New Dawn includes the Arabian Sea, Bahrain, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Persian Gulf, Qatar, Red Sea, Saudi Arabia and Arab Emirates.

• Operation Enduring Freedom (2001-2014 - other locations) - 130 died, of which 11 were combat related. The locations include Guantanamo Bay (Cuba), Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Philippines, Seychelles, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Yemen.

• Operation Inherent Resolve (2014 to present) - 17 died that were combat related. The locations include Bahrain, Cypress, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the Mediterranean Sea east of 25 degrees longitude, the Persian Gulf, and the Red Sea. It is the U.S. military operation name for the military targeted airstrikes of Iraq and Syria as part of the comprehensive strategy to degrade and defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

• Operation Freedom's Sentinel (2015 to present) - 21 died of which 11 were combat related. Operation Enduring Freedom ended on Dec. 31, 2014, and transitioned to Operation Freedom's Sentinel on Jan. 1, 2015. NATO's term for Operation Freedom's Sentinel is Operation Resolute Support. The U.S. mission is to support allies and partners as part of NATO's Resolute Support Mission and to continue training, advising and assisting Afghan security forces. The U.S. will continue its counterterrorism mission against the remnants of Al Qaeda to ensure that Afghanistan is never again used to stage attacks against our homeland.

(The above combat-related figures for current combat operations are as of May 6, 2016.)

Deadliest

There have been numerous discussions about what battle or war caused the most casualties and deaths of American citizens and most would venture to say that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941, ultimately caused more deaths in recent history. No, people are not attempting to lessen the Islamic terrorists' three-pronged aircraft attack on the United States on Sept. 11, but are only saying there was also another attack on our soil that ultimately caused the deaths of more Americans.

Yes, the initial attack by the Japanese on Dec. 7, 1941, killed 2,008 U.S. Navy personnel, 109 U.S. Marines, 218 U.S. Army and 68 civilians - a total of 2,403. Close to two-thirds of them died in the first 15 minutes of the battle when the U.S.S. Oklahoma, Utah and Arizona battleships were bombed. An additional 1,178 Americans were wounded during the initial attack.

The United States involvement, other than the time spent supplying our allies prior to Dec. 8, 1941, lasted until Aug. 15, 1945, when Japan surrendered to end the war. The United States' actual fighting was only for a total of 1,347 days, and when the war ended more than 400,000 Americans (of which 291,557 were combat related) had lost their lives.

WW II continues to be the biggest war known to mankind. Although the official numbers can never be confirmed, it is estimated somewhere between 50-70 million people worldwide died due to WWII.

Remember the true reason to participate in Memorial Day ceremonies and reflect upon those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Take the time to research Memorial Day, and if someone says they don't know why it is a national holiday, take the time to explain exactly why it is so important to our country and the American people.