More than 250 American military members have died in Afghanistan since our great nation observed Memorial Day 2012. The litany of U.S. casualties for this month alone is sad and lengthy. On this day that Americans set aside to remember U.S. heroes killed in all wars, let us remember that war rages on the other side of our planet. American soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen die every week, if not every day.
In tribute to all who have sacrificed their lives for our nation, we name those who gave their all in the past few weeks:
May 1 — Staff Sgt. Michael H. Simpson, 30, of San Antonio, died in Landstuhl, Germany, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit on April 27, with an improvised explosive device in Arian, Afghanistan.
May 2 — Spc. Trinidad Santiago Jr., 25, of San Diego, Calif.; and Pfc. Charles P. McClure, 21, of Stratford, Okla., died in Camp Buehring, Kuwait, of injuries sustained in a vehicle accident.
May 3 — Capt. Mark T. Voss, 27, of Colorado Springs, Colo., Capt. Victoria A. Pinckney, 27, of Palmdale, Calif., and Tech Sgt. Herman Mackey III, 30, of Bakersfield, Calif., died near Chon-Aryk, Kyrgyzstan, in the crash of a KC-135 aircraft. The cause of the crash was under investigation.
May 4 — 1st Lt. Brandon J. Landrum, 26, of Lawton, Okla., Staff Sgt. Francis G. Phillips IV, 28, of Meridian, N.Y., Spc. Kevin Cardoza, 19, of Mercedes, Texas, Spc. Thomas P. Murach, 22, of Meridian, Idaho, and Spc. Brandon J. Prescott, 24, of Bend, Ore., died in Maiwand, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when their vehicle was attacked by an enemy improved explosive device.
May 4 — Staff Sgt. Eric D. Christian, 29, of Warwick, N.Y., and Cpl. David M. Sonka, 23, of Parker, Colo., died while conducting combat operations in Farah province, Afghanistan. The incident was under investigation.
Sgt. 1st Class Trenton L. Rhea, 33, of Oakley, Kan., died May 15, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, after drowning while attempting to cross a body of water during combat operations.
May 14 — Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey C. Baker, 29, of Hesperia, Calif., Spc. Mitchell K. Daehling, 24, of Dalton, Mass., Spc. William J. Gilbert, 24, of Hacienda Heights, Calif., and Pfc. Cody J. Towse, 21, of Elk Ridge, Utah, died in Sanjaray, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device.
May 16 — Sgt. Eugene M. Aguon, 28, of Mangilao, Guam, and Spc. Dwayne W. Flores, 22, of Sinajana, Guam, died in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their unit with a vehicle-borne IED.
As of May 23, the U.S. Department of Defense reports that 2,220 Americans have died as the result of Operation Enduring Freedom and 18,584 have been wounded in action. Those statistics are still dwarfed by the casualties in Operation Iraqi Freedom: 4,422 Americans died and 31,927 were wounded in action.
On this Memorial Day, please take a moment to pause and reflect on how these Americans have shown courage in serving our country. And if you are in the Billings area, consider attending one of the Memorial Day services listed in the schedule below.