California’s War Dead Tops 700

Wednesday, June 20, 2012
A memorial at the Santa Monica beach known as Arlington West, a project of Veterans for Peace.


When Sgt. Nicholas C. Fredsti of San Diego was killed in Afghanistan on Friday, he joined more than 700 fellow Californians who have lost their lives in that country and Iraq since 2001.

More than 6,400-plus Americans have died at war in those two countries and another 48,000 have been wounded.

According to a Los Angeles Times database of California’s war dead, as of June 13, 2012, 320 of the 706 dead California soldiers were single, 304 were married and 46 were engaged. Two hundred and thirty-two soldiers who perished were survived by their 427 children. Almost all of the soldiers were men, 690, and they came from all over the state. Only four cities lost more than 10 soldiers, with San Diego leading the list (30), followed by Los Angeles (29), Long Beach (13) and San Jose (13).   

The Army suffered 432 casualties, the Marines 178, Army National Guard 32, the Navy 27, the Air Force 16, the Army Reserve 13, the Marine Reserve 6 and the Naval Reserve 2.

The oldest American to die in the wars is Steven Hutchison, 60, an Army major who had served two tours of duty in Vietnam and rejoined under the Army’s retiree recall program. His niece said of him: “He had a bleeding heart for all those Iraqi and Afghani people, and he felt passionately that many people don't see the human side of why we're there.”

Many people still don’t see that side of war. It’s been four years since the American Journalism Review noted that the war in Iraq had “virtually disappeared” from the front pages of American newspapers and nightly newscasts. The war that had occupied 23% of the network television news hole in early 2007 was down to 3% in 2008, according to a study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism. On cable, it went from 24% to 1%.

The Afghanistan war that has by and large replaced the Iraq war has been, if anything, more invisible. The 2,000th U.S. soldier died there this month and 88,000 soldiers still remain.  

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

California’s War Dead (Los Angeles Times)

Bragg Soldier from California Dies in Afghanistan (Associated Press)

Whatever Happened to Iraq? (by Sherry Ridchiardi, American Journalism Review)  

Operation Enduring Freedom Hits 2,000 U.S. Casualties (Huffington Post)

Memorial Day’s Lessons in Amnesia (by Tom Engelhardt, Salon)

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