Tuesday, March 25, 2008

4,000 Redux

This morning, the day after the count ticked over to four thousand, the Daily Star ran a full-page photo piece on the men and women with southern Arizona ties who have been killed. But they don't seem to have it online. The Phoenix paper has their all-Arizona casualty list up, although the linked blurbs appear to have come from the DOD and, as such, omit the homey details that made the Tucson version such a sad read today.

All the faces in that roster of thumbnails should be pondered. I'll point out a couple that particularly grabbed me.

There's Alyssa Peterson, 27, a Flagstaff translator and interrogator with the 101st Airborne. She committed suicide seven months before Abu Ghraib broke, after repeatedly objecting to interrogation techniques she witnessed and was required to perform on prisoners at Tal Afar.

There's Alan McPeek, 20, a Tucson soldier who died in a maelstrom of converging stupidity of jaw-dropping proportions the day before his unit was scheduled to come home. The AZ Central website reports that he and another soldier succumbed to small-arms fire in Ramadi, but the DOD recently admitted it was friendly fire, a shell from a US Abrams tank that rolled out (1) undermanned because the tank crews were also due to go home soon, and their CO didn't want to put all of them in harm's way, (2) with maps three months out of date because the platoon's printer had run out of ink, preventing them from printing out a current version, (3) with insufficient amounts of machine-gun ammo because cracking open new cases would have required paperwork the tank crew was unwilling to fill out, leaving them (4) to rely in the heat of an engagement on their big gun, which (5) the tank commander allowed an unqualified soldier to shoot because he was leaving Iraq soon and had never had the chance to fire it, so (6) instead of targeting the insurgents a couple of rooftops over, the tank targeted the rooftop where McPeek and his trainee replacement were standing and attempting to call in fire on those insurgents a couple of rooftops over. They were killed instantly.

And there's Robert Unruh, 25, another Tucson soldier, another small-arms fire casualty, this one in Al Anbar. His mother viewed his body in its coffin the morning he came home. Two hours later she died from heart failure.

To commemorate the 4,000th American falling in Iraq, George Bush promises to make sure that the 3,999 who went before him will not have died in vain. Meanwhile, the blogs are all a-twitter over Hillary Clinton's repeated misstatements/flat-out lies about dodging sniper fire at a Bosnian airport, and righty commentators still have their shorts in a twist over Barack Obama's nutty preacher, and nobody pays much attention to John McCain's inexorable march forward.


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