America has recorded its 1,000th combat casualty in Iraq, and soldiers with Washington state connections were among those counted. Pfc. Andrew Ward, 25, of Renton and Army Staff Sgt. Kyle Eggers, 27, of Yakima, were thought to be the 999th and 998th killed in combat.
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When noncombat deaths are included in the 21-month Iraq war toll, Ward and Eggers are the 1,273rd and 1,272nd U.S. soldiers to die, of more than 1,280 in all so far.
Two Fort Lewis Stryker Brigade soldiers recently killed—Sgt. David A. Mitts, 24, of Oregon and Staff Sgt. Salamo J. Tuialuuluu, 23, of American Samoa—were believed to be the 994th and 993rd to die in Iraq combat.
In all, in the Iraq-Afghanistan-Southwest Asia war zone, more than 1,350 American military personnel have died from combat and noncombat injuries since October 2001, 73 of them with Washington state connections.
Also, the stated cause of death of the 106th soldier to die in Afghanistan, former NFL football star Pat Tillman, has been changed. The military had originally reported that Army Ranger Tillman, who was based at Fort Lewis, was killed April 22 by enemy fire in Afghanistan. But according to The Washington Post, a Pentagon report made shortly after the shooting shows that Tillman, whose family lives in University Place near Tacoma, was accidentally shot by one of his own troops—struck down in the crossfire of two U.S. units. The friendly fire incident was apparently kept quiet to avoid affecting troop and public morale.
Washington deaths in Iraq stretch back to March 23, 2003, when Marine Cpl. Randal Kent Rosacker, 21, son of a Bangor Trident submarine officer, was killed in action. In Afghanistan, state-related deaths range back to Dec. 5, 2001, when Army Staff Sgt. Brian Cody Prosser, 28, whose mother lives in Seattle, died by friendly fire. On Jan. 4, 2002, Army Sgt. 1st Class Nathan R. Chapman, 31, Puyallup, was the first U.S. soldier killed by enemy fire in Afghanistan.