Memorial Day 2017: War is Hell

Photo Credit: AP Photojounalist Horst Faas, taken during the Vietnam War

Photo Credit: AP Photojournalist Horst Faas, 18 June 1965, Phouc Vinh, South Vietnam.

I’ve been where you are now and I know just how you feel. It’s entirely natural that there should beat in the breast of every one of you a hope and desire that some day you can use the skill you have acquired here.

Suppress it! You don’t know the horrible aspects of war. I’ve been through two wars and I know. I’ve seen cities and homes in ashes. I’ve seen thousands of men lying on the ground, their dead faces looking up at the skies. I tell you, war is Hell!

                                                                                                                           William Tecumseh Sherman

The quotation above is allegedly an excerpt from an address made by former US Army General William Sherman to the Michigan Military Academy’s graduating class of 1879.

The soldier in the lead photo for this essay was 19-year-old Larry Wayne Chaffin from St. Louis, who served with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Battalion, defending the airstrip at Phouc Vinh.

He was fortunate to have survived the war, but died of diabetes in 1985, just 39 years old, from a disease which may have been contracted from exposure to Agent Orange while in Vietnam.

Spc Etienne J Murphy

Spc. Etienne J, Murphy, 22, of Loganville, Ga; died May 26, 2017 in Syria. Image of the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Spc. Etienne J. Murphy, as seen above, is the latest U.S. soldier to die in uniform, reportedly from injuries sustained in a vehicle rollover in Al-Hasakah, Syria. He was a member of the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment from Hunter Army Airfield, Fort Stewart, Georgia.

The total casualties due to involvement in the Middle East thus far, not counting the U.S. involvement in Syria, is as follows:

Iraq Coalition Military Fatalities By Year

Year US UK Other Total
2003 486 53 41 580
2004 849 22 35 906
2005 846 23 28 897
2006 823 29 21 873
2007 904 47 10 961
2008 314 4 4 322
2009 149 1 0 150
2010 60 0 0 60
2011 54 0 0 54
2012 1 0 0 1
2014 3 0 0 3
2015 6 0 2 8
2016 17 0 0 17
2017 8 1 0 9
Total 4520 180 141 4841

Afghanistan Coalition Military Fatalities By Year

Year US UK Other Total
2001 12 0 0 12
2002 49 3 18 70
2003 48 0 10 58
2004 52 1 7 60
2005 99 1 31 131
2006 98 39 54 191
2007 117 42 73 232
2008 155 51 89 295
2009 317 108 96 521
2010 499 103 109 711
2011 418 46 102 566
2012 310 44 48 402
2013 127 9 25 161
2014 55 6 14 75
2015 22 2 3 27
2016 14 0 2 16
2017 4 0 0 4
Total 2396 455 681 3532
                                 Data courtesy of icasualties.org, where a breakdown is found of all                                casualties from the individual countries that form the coalition.

The purpose of Memorial Day Weekend in America is to honor those who died while in military service, or as a result thereof.

Let us consider the number of deaths from previous military encounters throughout our history, taken from an article found on the History News Network:

War Deaths Addendum
American
Revolution
25,324 Bunker Hill cost 400 American lives
War
of 1812
2,260
Mexican
War
13,283
Civil War

Union

Confederacy

863,153

498,332

364,821

Antietam cost 5,000 lives on both sides: bloodiest day in American history
Spanish-American
War
2,446
World War I 116,516 Battle of Somme cost 19,240 British lives on a single day (total British casualties: 57,470)
World War II 405,399 Other Losses:

Soviet: 10,000,000

German: 3,500,000

Japan: 1,500,000

British: 280,000

At Dunkirk the
British suffered 68,000 casualties

Korean War 54,246
Vietnam War 56,244
Panama invasion 23
Gulf
War (1991)
148

Dozens of battles in American history took place in which more than 800 deaths resulted during an individual conflict. A few examples:

  • Antietam: 5,000 Soldiers killed (23,110 dead and wounded)
  • Gettysburg: 7,058
  • Pearl Harbor: 2,403
  • Iwo Jima: nearly 7,000
    Bataan Death March: credible estimates vary widely from 7,000 to nearly 10,000
  • D-Day: approximately 2,500
  • 9/11/2001: 3,047 (+/- 2,823 at WTC, 184 at the Pentagon, and 40 in Pennsylvania–excluding terrorists)

The last bullet in the previous listing, although not an official battle, was placed there in consideration of the lives lost from a direct confrontation by foreign terrorists who attacked unsuspecting civilians on U.S. soil.

This Memorial-Day tribute of 2017 follows a 20-year tradition for this writer: the first group of entries is found by clicking here, and last year’s addition is located here.

It is not my intention to take away the joyous feelings and merriment felt by most during this celebrated weekend, the official ushering-in of summer; although the season is not officially here until June 21.

However, for those in the U.S., please take a few minutes to honor our war dead, who have so bravely and unselfishly given their lives to protect our freedoms of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Thanks for reading this and for your continued support.

St-Marys-Cemetery- Burlington-02s

St. Mary’s Cemetery in Burlington, NJ.

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About Mike Slickster

As an early retiree with an honorary doctorate degree from the proverbial "School of Hard Knocks," this upcoming author with a lot of free time on his hands utilizes his expansive repertoire for humorous yet tragic, wildly creative writing that contains years of imaginative fantasy, pure nonsense, classic slapstick, extreme happiness and searing heartbreak; gathered by a wealth of personal experiences throughout his thrilling—sometimes mundane or unusually horrid—free-spirited, rock-'n'-roller-coaster ride around our beloved Planet Earth. Mike Slickster's illustrious quest continues, living now in Act Three of his present incarnation, quite a bit on the cutting edge of profundity and philosophical merriment as seen through his colorful characters, most notably evident in the amusing Thirty Days Across the Big Pond series, all of which can be found at Lulu.com.
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