Facing Our Losses - Iraq 2003

Washington's toll in Iraq in 2003.

READ THE STORY • SEE THE IRAQ 2003 LIST • SEE THE IRAQ 2004 LIST • SEE THE IRAQ 2005 LIST • SEE THE IRAQ 2006 LIST • SEE THE IRAQ 2007 LIST • SEE THE IRAQ 2008 LIST • SEE THE IRAQ 2009 LIST • SEE THE IRAQ 2010 LIST • SEE THE IRAQ 2011 LIST • SEE THE AFGHANISTAN LIST 475th to die, Dec. 28, 2003—Army Sgt.Curt E. Jordan Jr., 25, Greenacres, Spokane County, who died of non-combat injuries suffered near Bayji, Iraq. Jordan was assigned to the Triple Nickel, Fort Lewis, 555th Combat Engineer Group. He is survived by his wife and two children, who live at Fort Lewis. Brother Army Spc. Adam Jordan was only miles away when Curt was killed. Father Curt Jordan Sr., who lives near Spokane, said his son decided that joining the Army would be the best thing for him, that he could get an education and get paid for it at the same time. 473rd to die, Dec. 26, 2003—Army Spc.Charles G. Haight, 23, Fort Lewis, who leaves behind a wife and 10-month-old son in Pierce County. Haight was killed when his convoy vehicle hit a road mine outside Tikrit. He was a mechanic with the Triple Nickel, the 555th Combat Engineer Group. An Alabaman, Haight grew up in the foothills of the Appalachians and hoped to study for a career in medicine. "He was a sweet guy, and to me, he was a hero," said sister Joy Ellis. 471st to die, Dec. 25, 2003—Army Staff Sgt.Stephen C. Hattamer, 43, a Spokane Valley native. Hattamer died when his living area in Baqouba, Iraq, came under mortar attack. He was assigned to an Army Reserve unit, the 652nd Engineer Battalion, which builds bridges. Survivors include his wife and three children. An elder in the Lutheran Church, Hattamer, who died on Christmas, conducted Bible studies with other soldiers, according to his sister, Theresa Anderson. "He was helping them with anger. He was helping them with depression," she said. "His Bible studies did make the men strong." 459th to die, Dec. 16, 2003—Army Spec.Nathan W. Nakis, 19, Sedro-Woolley, killed in a crash of a 5-ton cargo truck, which tipped over when he tried to avoid a hole he thought contained a bomb, southwest of Mosul; six others were injured. Nakis was assigned to the 52nd Engineer Battalion, Army National Guard, Albany, Ore. A recent high-school grad, Nakis was attending Oregon State University, studying for a dual degree in civil and forest engineering, when he was called up. In a statement, family members said Nathan "served his school, his community, and his country with pride." They remembered that, as a kid, the Eagle Scout loved playing soldier. 447th, 448th, and 449th to die, Dec. 8, 2003—Army Spc.Christopher J.R. Wesley, 26, Portland; Army Spc.Joseph M. Blickenstaff, 23, Corvallis, Ore.; and Army Staff Sgt.Steven H. Bridges, 33, Tracy, Calif. all died in Ad Duluiyah, Iraq, riding in a Stryker vehicle when it flipped into a canal. They were assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, based at Fort Lewis. Wesley, single, joined the Army "to see the world," said his uncle, Joe Wesley. His family heard about his death shortly after holding a funeral for his grandmother, who died of cancer on Thanksgiving. Blickenstaff, whose widow lives in Steilacoom in Pierce County, is remembered as a good-humored, bighearted guy who saw the Army as an opportunity. "I think the military was the right choice for him," said high-school teacher Jim Phillips. "He was just one of those quiet boys who was looking for direction." Bridges, who was married and lived with his family in the Fort Lewis area, had a 5-year-old daughter and three children from his widow's previous marriage. In Bridges' honor, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered flags flown at half-staff. 421st to die, Nov. 17, 2003—Army Capt.James A. Shull, 32, Kirkland, died from an accidental shooting in Baghdad. He had been on a welfare mission to schools and community centers when another soldier's rifle fired accidentally. Stationed at Fort Riley, Kan., married with three children, and a 1989 Juanita High School grad, Shull had a degree in criminal justice from Washington State University. At his Kirkland memorial service, brother Brad recalled a recent e-mail from him that included the words "pray for me." Mourners at the service sang every verse of "America the Beautiful." 411th to die, Nov. 15, 2003—Army Spc.John R. Sullivan, 26, Federal Way, one of 17 soldiers killed when two Army Black Hawk helicopters crashed in Mosul, tallying the largest loss of American life in a single incident in Iraq. Sullivan had re-enlisted so his wife would be able to spend more time caring for their new twins, whom he never got to see. He was assigned to the 626th Forward Support Battalion, 101st Airborne Division, based in Fort Campbell, Ky. "We don't care what people's opinions [about the war] are," said his widow, Katrina, "but they should just appreciate what is in the hearts of people willing to go over there and risk their lives for others." 378th to die, Nov. 5, 2003—Army Spc.Robert T. Benson, 20, Spokane, killed by nonhostile fire at a Baghdad checkpoint. The Army criminal investigation division is reviewing the death. Benson was with the 1st Battalion, 35th Armor Regiment, 1st Armored Division, based at Smith Barracks, Germany. He is survived by his wife of less than a year. At Benson's memorial service, Pastor Charles Hodges asked, "How do you measure the cost of our engagement in Iraq? You know that war costs more than money." 361st to die, Nov. 1, 2003—Army 2nd Lt.Benjamin J. Colgan, 30, Kent, killed in Baghdad while responding to a rocket-propelled-grenade attack. He was struck by an improvised explosive device. Colgan was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Armored Division, in Giessen, Germany. He was married, with two children. His wife was eight months pregnant at the time of his death. His parents actively opposed the war but supported the troops. At a November eulogy in Baghdad, Colgan's battalion commander, Lt. Col. William S. Rabena, said, "He was just so good at what he did that you felt safe around him." 323rd to die, Oct. 6, 2003—Army Pfc.Kerry D. Scott, 21, of Concrete in Skagit County, killed in Iskandariyah while on combat patrol. Scott was a Humvee machine gunner, and his convoy was hit by an improvised explosive device, killing him and a buddy. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, at Fort Drum, N.Y. "I will never leave this valley," his father, David, remembered Scott saying about the Skagit Valley, "and if I do leave, I'm coming back." He is buried there. 260th to die: Aug. 7, 2003—Army Pfc.Duane E. Longstreth, 19, Tacoma, died in Baghdad from non-combat-related injuries. He was assigned to Company B, 307th Engineer Battalion, Fort Bragg, N.C. After 9/11, he and his mother enlisted in the Army together; he became a combat engineer, she a communications specialist. "I just want to say," said mother Pfc. Jennifer West, "he is my hero." They joined up for duty, she said, because it was the right thing to do. "We're in Iraq to do a necessary job." 251st to die, July 31, 2003—Army Spc.Justin W. Hebert, 20, of Silvana in Snohomish County, the state's first combat fatality in Iraq. Killed in Kirkuk while on patrol, his vehicle was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade. Hebert was assigned to the 319th Field Artillery, 173rd Airborne Brigade, at Camp Ederle, Italy. "All politics aside," said Lt. Gen. Edward Soriano, the three-star commander of Fort Lewis, after Hebert's funeral, "this young man paid the ultimate price. He gave his life for his country." 203rd to die, June 6, 2003—Army Sgt.Travis L. Burkhardt, 26, Fort Lewis, killed in Baghdad while part of an escort mission when the vehicle he was in hit a roadway curb and rolled over. Assigned to the 170th Military Police Company at Fort Lewis, Burkhardt is survived by a wife and two children in Missouri. He recently had been honored for saving another soldier's life. "Travis was a patriotic man with a great sense of duty and compassion," said his father, David. 146th to die, May 9, 2003—Marine Lance Cpl.Cedric E. Bruns, 22, Vancouver, killed in a nonhostile vehicle accident in Kuwait while driving a Humvee that was struck on the driver's side by another vehicle. Bruns was with the 6th Engineer Support Battalion, 4th Force Service Support Group, in Eugene, Ore. His mother, Debbie, remembers his last phone call: "It was an early Mother's Day call because he didn't know if he would get another chance at a phone. We talked for 20 minutes. He knew what he was there for—to fight for somebody else's freedom." 22nd to die, March 23, 2003—Marine Cpl.Randal Kent Rosacker, 21, of San Diego, son of a Bangor Trident submarine officer, was one of nine Marines killed in fighting near Al Nasiriyah, Iraq, apparently ambushed by Iraqi soldiers who had indicated they wanted to surrender. His family remembered him as gung-ho prep athlete who loved playing nose tackle on the high school football team and once took the field with a broken arm. His father, Rod Rosacker of Bremerton, a command master chief petty officer, was chief of the boat for the Trident sub USS Alabama. He had returned home from war duty himself, his fourth Gulf tour, just hours before learning the news of his son's death. "I was kind of expecting this, knowing him," said Rod Rosacker. "He was always in the front of everything."  

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