web counter Media Lies: A cruel twist of fate

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

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A cruel twist of fate

Seven soldiers from Fort Hood, 4th Infantry Division, died in a helicopter crash near Waco. All the men on board had served in Iraq. Their division (the 4th ID) was the one that captured Sadaam Hussein.

They returned home safely from war, only to die on a routine mission at home.

Of the 1254 servicemen and women who have died in Operation Iraqi Freedom (pdf file), 271 (21.6%) have died from non-combat related causes. In Operation Enduring Freedom (the GWOT - OIF) we have lost 148 servicemen and women, and 88 (59.4%) have died from non-combat related causes.

Accidental death is not at all uncommon in the military. In fact, from 1980 to 2002 (pdf), the DoD reports 35,227 total deaths of which 19,609 (55.7%) were accidental. During that same period of time we lost 416 servicemen and women in terrorist attacks and 246 in combat. (Which would you prefer? Service members dying in terrorist attacks? Or dying while killing the terrorists?)

The military's accidental death rates per thousand (pdf) has improved from a high of 72.0 in 1980 to the high 20's to low 30's by 2002, which compares favorably to the overall accidental death rates for all US citizens. That still doesn't lessen the pain of loss, however, especially when family members felt their loved ones were back home, and safe from the dangers of combat.