Image courtesy: Staff Sgt. Mark Burrell
Since Friday, November 5, the Pentagon has released the names of 14 Soldiers and Marines killed in Afghanistan. The fallen warriors are being mourned by relatives and friends all over the country, from chilly New England to the Arizona desert, as well as on battlefields and bases around the world.
Spc. Anthony Vargas, 27, Reading, Pennsylvania
Spc. Andrew Hutchins, 20, New Portland, Maine
Sgt. Jason McCluskey, 26, McAlester, Oklahoma
Sgt. Aaron Cruttenden, 25, Mesa, Arizona
Spc. Dale Kridlo, 33, Hughestown, Pennsylvania
Sgt. 1st Class Todd Harris, 37, Tucson, Arizona
Spc. James Young, 25, Rochester, Illinois
Spc. Blake Whipple, 21, Williamsville, New York
Sgt. Michael Paranzino, 22, Middletown, Rhode Island
Lance Cpl. Brandon Pearson, 21, Arvada, Colorado
Lance Cpl. Matthew Broehm, 22, Flagstaff, Arizona
Pfc. Shane Reifert, 23, Cottrellville, Michigan
Staff Sgt. Jordan Emrick, 26, Hoyleton, Illinois
Lance Cpl. Randy Braggs, 21, Sierra Vista, Arizona
With Veterans Day quickly approaching, saluting the honorable prior service of our heroes is refreshingly widespread this week. The NFL and ESPN did a nice job paying tribute to our veterans during the Cincinnati Bengals-Pittsburgh Steelers Monday Night Football matchup, for instance. Yet I haven't seen much about the extraordinary sacrifices of the 14 heroic individuals listed above on national newscasts, nor is there much coverage of the important battles their comrades continue to fight at this very moment.
America has much to be thankful for as the Marine Corps celebrates its 235th birthday on Wednesday and our nation's veterans get their well-deserved official day of gratitude on Thursday. While pausing to recognize these events and what they signify, The Unknown Soldiers will also keep bringing you the personal stories of the men and women putting everything on the line to keep us free. To fully understand and appreciate their dedication, we must pay closer attention to these volunteers and their families.
Note: This post was updated several times on November 9 to reflect new casualty information from the Department of Defense.