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Deaths of JBLM soldiers described in WikiLeaks reports

Post by Adam Ashton / The News Tribune on Oct. 25, 2010 at 3:20 pm |
October 25, 2010 6:30 pm

Casualty reports describing the deaths of dozens of Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldiers can be found in hundreds of thousands of pages of classified Iraq war documents published last weekend by WikiLeaks.

The reports are immediate accounts of daily events in Iraq between 2004 and 2010. They’re quick and dirty, and will not reveal much new information to families who have received final investigations into the deaths of their loved ones from the Defense Department.

They reflect a constant grind for soldiers seeking out improvised explosive devices, drawing contact from insurgents and executing raids.

Here are some of examples of what’s published.

On September 18, 2007, soldiers conducting a home search  in Iraq’s Diyala Province saw an Iraqi behaving suspiciously. They told him to stay back several times. He approached them as they left the home, and detonated a suicide vest. That attack killed three Lewis-McChord soldiers – Spc. Nicholas P. Olson, Spc. Donald E. Valentine III and Spc. Joseph N. Landry III.

– Soldiers who investigated the May 6, 2007 roadside attack on a 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division Stryker found a terrible sight: Six soldiers and a photojournalist were killed. The investigators found a crater where the bomb exploded with cables running to the site. The Styker missing was its hull and rear door.

– Reports also provide a little information on some of the noncombat deaths that usually are described especially vaguely in Defense Department announcements.  Bodies of two soldiers in November were found at their bases with gunshot wounds.

– Pfc. Thomas Duncan III of the 75th Ranger Regiment was killed by friendly fire in a house raid on June 8, 2008. That’s in keeping with some accounts, though none have shown that seven other soldiers were wounded in the incident.

– The ambush that killed Cpl. Chad Groepper and Cpl. Luke Runyan of 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division on Feb. 17, 2008 told officers that insurgents were “running out of safe havens.”

– Some of the most devastating attacks have the fewest details because of the urgency in which the reports were written. A suicide attack at An American base in Mosul on Dec. 21, 2004 killed 14 soldiers, six of them from Lewis-McChord. That report provides crucial facts for responders, and not much else. It reads:

“AT 1210C, – ___ AN UNK NUMBER OF RNDS IMPACTED FOB ___. ASSESSED THAT A ___ IMPACTED ON THE DINING FACILITY. ___ ARE ON SCENE CONDUCTING ___. CASUALTIES CONSIST OF US, ING AND CIV CONTRACTORS. THE ___ HAVE BEEN MEDEVAC TO MULTIPLE AID STATIONS ON FOB ___ AND TO . ___ HAS STARTED A ___ ACCOUNTABILITY ___ FROM ALL TENANTS ON FOB ___. THE ___ OF THE CASUALTIES HAVE BEEN COLLECTED AND SERIAL NUMBERS RECORDED. MP‘___ HAVE SECURED THE SITE AND CID AND EOD HAVE BEGUN INVESTIGATIONS. INITIAL CRATER AND FRAGMENTATION ANALYSIS INDICATE THE RND WAS MOST LIKELY A 1X 122MM ___. UPDATE 2244C, BREAK DOWN OF ___: 14X US KIA, 51X US WIA (17X RTD), 4X US CIV KILLED, 3X US CIV INJ, 7X ___ CIV INJ(2X RTD), 10X ___ INJ (NATIONALITY UNK, 6X RTD), 2X ISF KIA AND ___ ISF WIA(RTD).”

WikiLeaks does not name any victims. It’s possible to find these casualty reports by searching for a specific date and narrowing your query with other descriptions. WikiLeaks also has scrubbed information that could be used to harm American soldiers, such as descriptions of the bombs used in attacks.

Look for more in tomorrow’s News Tribune, and I will add links to more accounts as I find them.

Update at 6 p.m. Here are more of the WikiLeaks documents that appear linked to Lewis-McChord and Washington state soldiers.

Sept. 2, 2009: A vehicle accident that killed Sgt. Todd Selge and Spc. Jordan Shay of the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

May 30, 2009: A vehicle accident that killed Spc. Samual Stone, Army National Guard 1st Squadron, 303rd Cavalry Regiment 81st Brigade

Jan. 26, 2009: Chief Warrant Officer Benjamin Todd of Colville Washington was killed in a helicopter accident. He served with the 10th Mountain Division out of Fort Drum, N.Y.

Jan. 24, 2009:  Sgt. Kyle Harrington of the 593rd Sustainment Brigade was killed in an accident.

July 15, 2008: Staff Sgt. David Textor of the 1st Special Forces Group was killed in a vehicle accident.

May 6, 2008: Pfc. Aaron Ward of the 504th Military Police Battalion was killed by small arms fire.

April 30, 2008:  Staff Sgt. Chad Caldwell of Spokane was killed by a roadside bomb. He was serving with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment out of Fort Hood, Texas.

March 29, 2008: Marine Lt. Col. William Hall of Seattle was killed by a roadside bomb in Anbar Province.

March 29, 2008: Spc. Durrell Bennett of Spanaway was killed in an attack in Baghdad. He was serving with the 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division.

March 7, 2008: Cpl. Jose Paniagua-Morales of 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division was killed by an improvised explosive.

Jan. 5, 2008: Pfc. Jason Lemke of the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division was killed by a roadside bomb.

Nov. 18, 2007:  Pfc. Marius Ferrero, Cpl. Jason Lee and Cpl. Christopher Nelson of 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division were killed by a suicide bomber.

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