The U.S.’s decade-long operation in Afghanistan is winding down, but Americans are still fighting and dying overseas. Within the past year, from May 1, 2013 to May 20, 2014, a total of 121 U.S. military personnel have lost their lives in the line of duty. During this period, May 2013 was the deadliest month with a total of 22 service-member fatalities.
The majority of these casualties were in the Army, which lost a total of 101 soldiers. The Navy has lost three members since last Memorial Day. The Marines have lost 11, and the Air Force has lost six.
Due to the ongoing drawdown from Afghanistan and the end of the U.S. presence in Iraq, the numbers of service members who have lost their lives in combat has been falling. So far in 2014, 22 service members have died in the line of duty, compared to 132 deaths in all of 2013. March 2014 marked the first month in over a decade with zero U.S. combat fatalities.
Below is a look at four soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice this year.
Army Command Sgt. Maj. Martin R. Barreras died on May 13, 2014, from wounds caused by small-arms fire in Herat, Afghanistan, on May 6. Barreras was a career officer in the Army Rangers, who helped plan and execute the operation that freed Private Jessica Lynch during the opening days of the Iraq War. He was 49-years-old.
Marine Master Sgt. Aaron C. Torian died on February 15, 2014, from wounds caused by enemy action in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. At his funeral, a comrade recalled a sudden sense of nervousness that seized their detachment of Marines during an particularly intense patrol. As they communicated by radio, “Through it all, [Torian’s voice] alone was different. It was purposeful, coming in a steady rhythm, as if he weren’t even there with us, as if he were on some other patrol, one that was going well, telling us what he was doing to fix the truck, to get the convoy going. Never doubting, always believing.” He was 36-years-old.
Air Force Capt. David I. Lyon died on December 27, 2013, from wounds caused by an improvised explosive device in Kabul, Afghanistan. Lyon was an executive officer to his unit commander, as well as a Mountain West Conference champion in indoor shot-put during his time at the Air Force Academy. He was 28-years-old.
Navy Chief Warrant Officer Jonathan S. Gibson died on September 22nd, 2013, in a helicopter crash in the central Red Sea, during a deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, in Afghanistan. Gibson joined the Navy at 18 and was a biker, surfer, and snowboarder. He was 32-years-old.
A full list of service members who have fought and died in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn can be found at the Military Times’ Project “Honour The Fallen.”
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