EDITORIAL: Mark the milestone
A milestone passed with nary a whisper last week as the war in Afghanistan entered its 10th year on Oct. 7.
Those entering the military today were children when those before them enlisted, were trained and deployed, fought and came home — or did not.
It is appropriate that we mark this time, remembering not only the fallen and their families but those who continue to step forward knowing full well the risks and likelihood of overseas deployment.
For those who serve, those risks have not lessened over time, they have, in fact, worsened in Afghanistan where the fighting has intensified since President Obama implemented his “surge” and sent more than 30,000 additional troops into the country.
Last year was the worst to date in terms of American troop deaths and injuries, and numbers have worsened again in 2010 with the most concentrated effort to engage the enemy yet, Operation Dragon Strike, still under way in the heart of the Taliban spawning ground, Kandahar.
We in Southwest Florida are not immune to the impact, nor are we isolated from the related tragedy.
The American death toll in Afghanistan as of Friday was 1,299 with another 4,411 in Iraq, the second front in the war on terrorism. All told, 5,710 have died with many, many more than that number wounded.
According to a Washington Post database, 270 of these troops have come from Florida, including four from Cape Coral, two each from Lehigh and Alva, and one each from North Fort Myers and Fort Myers.
Five — Spc. Manuel Lopez III, 20; Pfc. Derrick D. Gwaltney, 21; Cpl. Karen N. Clifton, 22, Cpl. Jimmy L. Shelton, 21, and Staff Sgt. Marco A. Silva, 27 — gave their lives in Iraq. Five — Capt. Daniel W. Eggers, 28; Pfc. Brandon J. Wadman, 19; Spec. Carlos J. Negron, 40, Sgt. Michael C. Roy, 25, and Sgt. Roy A. Wood, 47 –died in Afghanistan.
Among the wounded — and there are many who have come home hurt to Lee County — are Pfc. Michael Araujo, who lost a leg and sustained other serious physical trauma, and Pfc. Corey Kent, who lost both legs and part of one hand. Both were injured in Afghanistan.
And yes, there is one other soldier from Cape Coral who has received national attention, though under distinctly different circumstances than those in the categories above.
Spc. Adam Winfield sits in confinement at Ft. Lewis-McChord in Washington, charged with pre-meditated murder in the death of an Afghan national although his parents maintain they tried repeatedly to inform Army officials of illegal actions on the part of some platoon members and threats on their son’s life should he report those involved.
If war is hell, having a child in the military during wartime is a purgatory of torment for parents whose children serve — there are so many ways they can come home. Or not.
Thank you to those who serve. Thank you to those who have served. Thank you in advance to those who choose to enlist even as the war in Afghanistan moves into its decade year.
Your efforts should not, shall not, go unmarked.
— Reporter editorial