Friday, August 19, 2011

Honor All Vets But Reserve a Special Place for Those of World War II

In today’s Washington Post (19 Aug 2011) there was an excellent article: “World War II veteran remembers historic B-17 attack against Germany" ( and it got me to thinking, most Americans today don’t realize how costly in lives World War II really was, especially when compared to our present wars. Actually, the 8th Air Force alone in WWII sustained more than 27,000 killed; that’s more than the entire Marine Corps (24,500) lost in that war. Although they had the highest casualty rate, the 8th Air Force was only one of 16 numbered Air Forces in the War. Americans of today owe a real debt of gratitude to the WWII generation for their sacrifices.

Understand as a Vietnam combat Vet who spent 30 years in the Army (and was in Afghanistan as a civilian last year), I consider every service member’s life precious and I don’t wish to diminish the death of a single one but to put things into perspective, here are the stats from our most recent wars compared to WWII:

In the 10 years we’ve been in Afghanistan (Oct 2001-Today/Aug 2011), we’ve lost 1726 military killed from all causes in country and the surrounding regions (1192 Soldiers, 357 Marines, 84 Airmen and 93 Sailors). That averages less than ½ person lost per day.

In the 8½ years we’ve been in Iraq (Mar 2003-Today/19 Aug 2011), we’ve lost 4565 military killed from all causes in country and the surrounding regions (3283 Soldiers, 1022 Marines, 57 Airmen, 103 Sailors and 1 Coast Guardsmen).

Theoretically the Vietnam War lasted 10 years but 51,585 of the total 58,220 killed occurred during the real 5 years (1966-70) of the war when we were heavily engaged. At the height of the war in 1968 we were losing 50 a day killed!

The Korean War lasted 3 years and one month (Jun 1950 – Jul 53) and total US Killed was 36,516. That averages ~32+ killed a day

All these conflict pale in comparison to World War II where the US lost almost half a million men. The Battle of the Bulge alone lasted 40 days (16 Dec 44 – 25 Jan 45) with almost 90,000 U.S. casualties; 19,000 killed, 47,500 wounded, and 23,000 captured or missing. The 36-day Iwo Jima assault resulted in more than 26,000 American casualties, including 6,800 dead while the 82-day Battle for Okinawa lasted from early April until mid-June 1945 and U.S. (5 Army and 2 Marine Corps Divisions) casualties were over 62,000 with over 12,000 killed.

Honor ALL Veterans but reserve a special place for the Heroes from World War II!

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