Media General News Service October 25, 2005
South hit hardest in Iraq military deaths
U.S. service members dead total 1,997
By James W. Crawley
More than half of the U.S. troops killed in Iraq either came from the South or were assigned to military bases in the region, according to an analysis of Pentagon records.
As the U.S. military death toll nears 2,000 deaths since March 2003, the South continues to bear a heavy toll from the war, said national security analysts.
Yesterday, military officials reported the death of a Marine on Sunday in Ramadi, an insurgent stronghold, bringing the toll to 1,997.
The total includes those killed by hostile fire and those who died from accidents, non-combat injuries, illness or suicide while fighting in Iraq, nearby waters or Kuwait.
Of those, about 55 percent either listed permanent homes or were assigned to military bases in Southern states.
"You would expect that," said John Pike, the director of GlobalSecurity.org, a research group based in Alexandria, Va. "There is a greater propensity to join (the military) in the South. And, you can't drive very far in the South without running into an Army base." The South, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, includes Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.
Thirty-seven percent of fallen troops listed their permanent residency in the South.
A recent report by the Durham-based Institute for Southern Studies showed that 35 percent of active-duty personnel were recruited from the South. According to the report, 51 percent of the military is based in those states.
"The way people see and feel (the war's impact) is in the casualties from the war," said Chris Kromm, the institute's executive director.
A September CBS poll, Kromm said, showed that 34 percent of Southerners thought the Iraq war was having a "major impact" on their communities - 10 percentage points higher than any other region.
"Clearly, the Southerners feel the Iraq war is disproportionately affecting their communities," Kromm said.
Most of North Carolina's 238 fatalities have been soldiers and Marines based at two large military installations, the Army's Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base. Most died from wounds suffered in combat.
Of the fallen, 40 service members, including 16 Guardsmen and reservists, listed North Carolina as their home state.
The Pentagon released the names of the state's most recent casualties yesterday. Marine Lance Cpl. Kenneth J. Butler, 19, of Rowan, and Navy Petty Officer Third Class Christopher W. Thompson, 25, of North Wilkesboro, died Friday.
The Pentagon also reported that 337 state residents had been wounded through Oct. 8.
News reports and independent groups put the military death toll at 1,997, but it is likely to be several days before the official Pentagon list equals that number because the military does not release a dead service member's name until 24 hours after it notifies the next-of-kin.
The death toll is not all of the casualty picture. Another 15,220 personnel have been wounded in action, as of Oct. 15. Another 8,000 have been sent home because of medical conditions.
Military personnel are not the only casualties of the war.
The death toll among Iraqis is considerably higher. Although no accurate counts are available, various human-rights groups and scholars have estimated that up to 30,000 Iraqis have died since March 2003. Approximately 3,300 Iraqi army, police and security personnel are dead in the insurgency fighting, according to press accounts.
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