Facing Our Losses - Iraq 2008

Washington's toll in Iraq in 2008.

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 4,160th to die: Sept. 17, 2008 – Army Pfc. Leonard J. Gulczynski I, 19, of Carol Stream, Ill., died Sept. 17 in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries sustained when his vehicle was involved in an accident. He was assigned to the 610th Engineer Support Company, 14th Engineer Battalion, 555th Engineer Brigade, Fort Lewis, Wash. Gulczynski was an enthusiastic high school athlete before graduating in 2007. His father Mike, a veteran - as was Mike's father - said the two of them were proud of their Army backgrounds, and figured they were responsible for Leonard's enlistment. "But I showed my dad the pictures that he sent, and he had a smile on his face," Mike said. Like the father and grandfather, "He liked being a soldier."  

4,147th to die: Aug. 26, 2008 – Army Spc. Carlo E. Alfonso, 23, of Spokane, died of injuries sustained when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device in Sadr City, Iraq. He was assigned to the 40th Engineer Battalion, 1st Armored Division, Baumholder, Germany. Alfonso immigrated to the U.S. in 1997 with his mother. He met his wife Rosemarie in high school. They had a two-year-old son. Alfonso joined the Army even before he'd become a U.S. citizen. But, said Rosemarie, "he was proud to be a soldier and to serve for this country…" His remains were returned home to Spokane on Sept. 4, which would have been his 24th birthday.  

4,125th to die: July 17, 2008 – Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jackie L. Larsen, 37, of Tacoma, died of natural causes at Joint Base Balad Hospital, Iraq. She was assigned to the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, Beale Air Force Base, Calif., home to the nation's spy planes. Larsen, who was married, died of non-combat-related medical causes, a Beale spokesman said, but the exact cause of death was not being released. A paralegal by trade and native of the Phillipines, Larsen was serving as the superintendent at the Beale legal office. She joined the Air Force in 1990, and a Beale newsletter quoted colleague Rosalyn Anderson as saying, "Many people knew Tech. Sgt Jackie Larsen as a military professional. They would say that she was dedicated, a real 'tough cookie,' and a 'no nonsense' kind of NCO. Not many knew her outside of that capacity." Thus they wouldn't have known about "the way she would giggle when she was in a silly mood, how protective she was of her family, particularly her mother. Nor would many know of her love of deep sea diving and her desire to be an instructor."  

4,123rd to die: July 15, 2008 – Army Staff Sgt. David W. Textor, 27, a Fort Lewis Special Forces soldier from Lacey, died in Mosul of injuries suffered from a vehicle accident. The father of five children ages 1 to 14, Textor was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), at Fort Lewis. Textor was originally from Jamestown, NY, and "wanted to fight for his country and fight for his children," said his widow Colette Textor. "That was his main motivation." He played football, ran track, and wrestled in high school before joining the Army in 2002. He coached youth soccer while the family lived in North Carolina and planned to coach locally when he returned from Iraq, his widow said. Textor, who had five sisters, "was a wonderful person. He was an awesome father. He loved spending time with me and the kids," Colette Textor recalled. "He always said, if we ever won the lottery, he would have six more."  

June 9, 2008 – Army Pfc. Thomas F. Duncan III, 21, a Fort Lewis Ranger from Rowlett, Texas, was killed in an incident under investigation. According to the Special Operations command, "initial indications are that Duncan's wounds may have resulted from friendly fire." No other details were given. Duncan, an assistant machine gunner and grenadier, was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Lewis. He was killed in Sinjar, Iraq. Duncan, who was married, enlisted in 2006 after graduating from high school in Rowlett. "Ranger Duncan distinguished himself as a member of the Army's premier light infantry unit, traveled to all corners of the world in support of the Global War on Terrorism, and fought valiantly to uphold the prestige, honor and high 'esprit de corps' of the Ranger Regiment," the U.S. Special Operations Command said in a news release.  

4,073rd to die: May 6, 2008 – Army Pfc. Aaron J. Ward, 19, of San Jacinto, Calif., a Fort Lewis military policeman, died in Al Anbar, Iraq, from wounds suffered when his unit came under small arms during search operations. A San Jacinto High gradudate, Ward was assigned to the 170th Military Police Company, 42nd Military Police Brigade, at Fort Lewis. "A hero was stolen away from us," said Army Lt. Col. Daryl Johnson, Ward's commanding officer. "He always made the best of any situation," added Spc. Nicholas Dechicko, a fellow MP. Said his mother, Debbie Ward, in a memorial message: "I do not know how I will get through life without your big smile or the funny dances that you always did with me. You are going to be so missed by everyone, but especially me and your sister."  

4,062nd to die: April 30, 2008 – Army Staff Sgt. Chad A. Caldwell, 24, of Spokane, died in Mosul, Iraq, of injuries sustained while conducting combat operations. He was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, at Fort Hood, Texas. A graduate of Cheney High, Caldwell was on his third tour of duty in a war he once thought would end quickly, his family said. But the sergeant, married with two children, recently told a reporter. "My kids will probably serve over here." He made a similar comment to his mother, Carol Caldwell. "It was his goal to get things done so that wouldn't have to happen, and to secure a future for his family," she said. At a memorial service, chaplain Maj. Paul Dirksmeyer said, it was "because he was such an extraordinary person that he became such an extraordinary soldier."  

4,056th to die: April 27, 2008 - Army Pfc. William T. Dix, 32, of Culver City, Calif., a Fort Lewis soldier, died at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, of injuries suffered in a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the 14th Engineer Battalion, I Corps, at Fort Lewis. The News Tribune reported that a memorial for Dix held at Fort Lewis was believed to be the first in which commanders and the chaplain publicly acknowledged that the soldier's death came at his own hand. "Beneath his quiet and well-intentioned demeanor," said his battalion commander, Lt. Col. Pete Helmlinger, "he was fighting an inner battle, about what we will never know." Dix, who was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, apparently hid his feelings well. "I would ask him about his day, and his reply – 'another great day to be in the Army' – never changed. I never knew him to utter a single complaint," recalled a friend, Sgt. Michael Burnett.  

4,009th to die: March 29, 2008 - Army Spc. Durrell L. Bennett, 22, of Spanaway, died along with a fellow solider in Baghdad from wounds suffered when they encountered an improvised explosive device and small arms fire. They were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry, out of Fort Riley, Kan. Bennett, a former Bethel High student, recently re-enlisted although he planned to return to the Spanaway area. His father, Dempsey Bennett, said "He had so many friends. Everybody knew Durrell." Young Bennett had dreamed of one day becoming involved in the music business, and on his MySpace page, he wrote: "Most of my spare time i love to do music thats my first love, im not tryin too make it big or anything like evrybody else. This is just a hobbie, but if it happens i wont complain."  

4,010th to die: March 29, 2008 - Marine Lt. Col. William G. Hall, 38, of Seattle, died from wounds he suffered while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Iraq. He was assigned to 3rd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion, part of Marine Air Control Group 38. Hall, who grew up in Skyway near Renton, was a 1997 graduate of Garfield High School and Washington State University. He is one of the highest-ranking U.S. military officers to be killed in the war in Iraq. The father of four was in his third Iraq deployment where his main duties were to teach other Marines how to fight and survive. He had earned a degree in physical education at WSU, and a master's from the University of Phoenix. In a statement, his family said Hall "believed strongly in growing, living and learning, and he did all of those things with great courage and integrity."  

3,983rd to die: March 10, 2008 – Army Sgt. Phillip R. Anderson, 28, of Graham, Pierce County, died of wounds suffered when a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle in Balad Ruz. Two others soldiers were also killed. They were assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood, Texas. Anderson, born in Mexico, Mo., was married, with a child. His wife, in a memorial notice to her late husband, said "I love you so much, you are my hero and you will always be in my heart and in my thoughts. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you have done for me and Warner. We love you so much and are so proud of you."  

3,980th to die: March 7, 2008 –Army Cpl. Jose A. Paniagua-Morales, 22, a Fort Lewis Stryker soldier from Bell Gardens, Calif., was fatally wounded when his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in Samarra. He died later at the Balad military hospital. Paniagua-Morales joined the Army in 2004 and was subsequently assigned to a unit of the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. His mother lives in Tacoma and his widow in California. Gov. Schwarzenegger in a statement called Paniagua-Morales "a true patriot who gave his life in the defense of liberty...Maria and I offer our prayers and deepest condolences."  

3,978th to die: Feb. 25, 2008 Army Spec. Kevin S. Mowl, 22, a Fort Lewis Stryker soldier, died at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., after a six month struggle to survive. He suffered brain and head trauma in an August 2, 2007 roadside-bomb blast that instantly killed three other Fort Lewis soldiers. Mowl, from Pittsford, NY, was awarded the Purple Heart and a Presidential Medallion in December by President Bush during a hospital visit. Mowl's father Harold is the superintendent and chief executive officer of the Rochester, NY, School for the Deaf.  

3,968th and 3,96th to die: Feb. 17, 2008 – Army Specialists Luke Runyan and Chad Groepper, both 21-year-old Fort Lewis Stryker brigade members, were killed in an ambush in Dyala Province. Runyan, from Spring Grove, Penn., was married with one child; Groepper, from Kingsley, Iowa, also was married with one child. Both men met their wives-to-be while serving at Fort Lewis. Courtney Runyan, of Puyallup, recalled how Luke messaged her via MySpace, "telling me how pretty I was." When they met, it was "love at first sight." Runyan was an avid hunter who also enjoyed riding his motorcycle and in 2007 reenlisted for three more years. Groepper, who grew up on a farm, had been counting the days until his return, said his family. In December, he saw his 4-month-old daughter for the first and only time. "It was hard to go back after that," said Groepper's mother Darcy, "now that he had a baby."  


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