When holding memorial ceremonies for its fallen soldiers, Fort Lewis does not distinguish between those who were killed by the enemy in combat and those who died in accidents while deployed. Nor should they.
Nor should we in the news media. That’s why I feel badly that the News Tribune missed Wednesday’s ceremony in honor of Pfc. Leonard J. Gulczynski, a 19-year-old from Carol Stream, Ill. who died in Baghdad on Sept. 17. His death was reported on our front page when we learned of it last month, as the deaths of local soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan always are. But we traditionally cover the local Army post farewell ceremony, too.
Gulczynski was a heavy construction equipment operator who belonged to Fort Lewis’ 555th Engineer Brigade, known as the Triple Nickel. The Department of Defense continues to say simply that he died from wounds sustained in a “vehicle incident.” Gulczynski’s hometown paper, the Daily Herald of suburban Chicago, went a little further to say he was ejected from a Humvee after it crashed into a another vehicle.
Family, friends and community gathered a week ago back in Gulczynski’s hometown. You can read the Daily Herald’s coverage of that memorial, and learn more about the soldier, by clicking here.