It is profoundly sad to think of the number of Americans that have died in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade. The total exceeded 4,400 in Iraq with nearly 32,000 wounded in action in Iraq from March 20, 2003 when Operation Iraqi Freedom was launched. The British have lost 179 troops and 21 other countries have lost 139 people in Iraq.
At least the number of deaths has decreased markedly since Sept. 1, 2010 when OIF was succeeded by Operation New Dawn with the mission to advise, assist, train and partner with Iraqi forces. In that period, 36 Americans have died and 171 have been wounded in action in Iraq.
In Afghanistan, 1,586 Americans have died and more than 11,500 have been wounded in action since the war began in October, 2001 on the heels of al Qaeda's terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that killed nearly 3,000 people, most of them Americans. In addition to American deaths, 27 other countries, our allies in the fight for freedom in Afghanistan, have lost 886 of their troops.
Most often the weapon of choice for the terrorists is a car bomb, a suicide bomb or a roadside bomb, the deadly improvised explosive device known as IED. In one of the recent fatal attacks, four U.S. soldiers were killed last week by an IED in the Kunar province of Afghanistan.
They are not nameless statistics. And while, we cannot name all those who have died for freedom's cause, here are the names of those four fallen heroes of liberty: Pvt. Thomas C. Allers, 23, of Plainwell, Mich.; Pvt. Andrew M. Krippner, 20, of Garland, Tex.; Pfc. William S. Blevins, 21, of Sardina, Ohio; and Staff Sgt. Kristofferson B.Lorenzo, 33, of Chula Vista, Calif. They were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
In Baghdad the targets of the terrorists and insurgents now are mainly Iraqis since Americans have turned security over to that country's police and military. Last week's violence included a car bomb that wounded five people, and a roadside bomb that killed a police colonel and wounded two bodyguards.
For all the sacrifice of lives and treasure, Iraq is still far from the kind of democracy that was hoped for when Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003. Progress has been slow and painful and costly, not only to America but to the thousands of Iraqis that have lost their lives. The outlook for Afghanistan is uncertain at best.
It is a time not only for remembering and honoring the sacrifices of the men and women in uniform who have paid the ultimate price for freedom. It is a time to give thanks for their sacrifice and offer a prayer that our freedom will endure.