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Jun 01

Honor and Mourn

Posted on June 1, 2021 at 5:08 PM by Melinda Mayo

This Monday we commemorated Memorial Day, a day set aside since at least 1868 to honor and mourn military personnel who have died in the performance of their duties.

The Many

More than 1.3 million U.S. military members have died in combat or service-related action associated with the nearly 80 wars or significant military operations the United States has engaged in between 1775 and 2020.  An additional 1.5 million were wounded in these same conflicts.  The Civil War remains the most deadly conflict in U.S. history accounting for nearly half of all deaths associated with U.S. military actions.  World War II was the next deadliest conflict involving the United States, with more than 400,000 military members killed in combat.

The First

Eight Militiamen were killed in April of 1775 in the first day of fighting at the Battles of Lexington and Concord, becoming some of the first U.S. military casualties.  The first U.S. soldier to die in the Civil War is believed to be Daniel Hough an Irish immigrant serving at Fort Sumter. His death was accidental, caused by a cannon that went off prematurely during a salute to the flag after the Battle of Fort Sumter.  On May 22, 1861, Thornsberry Bailey Brown became the first Union soldier killed in battle during the Civil War.  Thomas Francis Enright is believed to be the first American serviceman to die in World War I, along with Cpl. James Bethel Gresham of Evansville, Indiana and Pvt. Merle Hay of Glidden, Iowa.  The first American to die in World War II is considered to be Capt. Robert Moffat, an aeronautical meteorologist, killed during a German bombardment in Norway.  Pvt. Kenneth Shadrick, a 19-year-old infantryman from Skin Fork, West Virginia, is believed to be the first American killed in the Korean War. Lt. Col. Peter Dewey, a U.S. Army officer with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in Vietnam, is recognized as the first U.S. military casualty in the Vietnam conflict. 

The Most Recent

Since Sept. 11, 2001, at least 7,047 service members have died in support of overseas operations, including deaths by hostile forces, accidents, illness, and suicide.  Since last Memorial Day, 18 additional deaths of U.S military personnel related to combat have occurred, five took place in Kuwait and five were the result of a helicopter crash in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.  Perhaps the most recent fatality is associated with a 55-year-old Army Reservist from Richmond, Staff Sgt. Christopher Pantos, who died on April 26 in Kuwait.

For each of these and the many who have fallen in service to country – we honor and mourn.

-- Bob Cowell


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