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 Texas : Features : Columns : Lone Star Diary :

List of Dead in WWII

by Murray Montgomery
Murray Montgomery
It seems like not a day goes by that Americans don’t receive the terrible news that another young soldier has been killed in action – they die fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places far from home.

Some elements of the news media are quick to promote the death count, which is very depressing, but they fail miserably when it comes to informing Americans of the positive things that are taking place in those countries. I find it very interesting that so many of our troops who have returned home from the Middle East are willing to return to these war-torn places and finish the job – many go back when they don’t have to.

I’ve talked to several of these gallant young people and have yet to find one who does not believe in what they are trying to accomplish over there. They sincerely believe that they are doing a good thing by liberating those countries from be-headers, killers, and tyrants – while fighting to protect the United States from future attacks. I am inclined to agree with their assessment of things, after all they should know; they’ve been there.

Throughout the history of this great country our courageous troops have been fighting to defend and liberate. During World War II, the number of American military who died was indeed staggering. Back on June 27, 1946, the War Department released a booklet with a list of the war dead and those considered missing in action. According to authorities this was the first consolidated listing of Army dead and missing in World War II. The booklet was sent to news media across the country and one of them found its way to The Moulton Eagle.

The list is broke down into percentages as to states where the most casualties came from and so forth. Those missing in action were maintained at that status for one year before they were officially declared dead. The department stated, “[We] are extremely reluctant to hold out hope to next of kin that any missing persons will be found alive. It is expected that after a reasonable lapse of time and after due investigation, most of these missing cases will be closed with findings of death.”

As of Jan. 31, 1946, the release from the War Department stated that 308,978 American soldiers had been killed in action and 1,424 were being listed as “missing.” The booklet also revealed that more than 10,000,000 men and women were mobilized into the armed forces from May 27, 1941, to Jan. 31, 1946. Considering that the department pamphlet is over 60 years old, it comes as no surprise that those original figures have changed considerably. According to the American Battle Monuments Commission’s website, there were 405,399 killed in action and of that group 78,976 were listed as missing in action.

The old booklet attempted to enlighten readers as to what states had the most casualties according to their overall population. It cited New Mexico as one example: “Early in the war, a National Guard unit from New Mexico suffered heavy casualties in the Philippines. New Mexico with four-tenths of one percent of the nation’s population, suffered a death rate of 4.77 percent, as compared to the national average of 2.98 per cent.”

Of all the states, New York lost the greatest number of soldiers with a count of 31,215 with Pennsylvania (26,554), Illinois (18,601), California (17,022), Ohio (16,827), and Texas (15,764) rounding out the top six of this heartbreaking list. Again it must be remembered that these figures are from 1946 and it is likely that the final number was higher.

As would be expected from their small population; Nevada, Delaware, Wyoming, and Vermont suffered the least amount of causalities in the war. The aged pamphlet also broke down its figures by counties and revealed that Texas’ King County was one of the few in the nation that suffered no war-related deaths.

Information found on the Internet reveals the following data regarding casualties suffered by several local counties during World War II: Lavaca (90), Gonzales (62), and DeWitt (49). These figures only represent Army deaths. They do not include those of the Navy, Marines, and other services.

Once again, this nation finds itself at war against an enemy who has total disregard for human life. And our troops continue to protect us just as their forefathers have done in the past. We should all grieve anytime one of our soldiers die and we should continue to pray for the rest of these brave young people. Most of them are over there because they believe in what they are doing. It is our duty to fully support these warriors and we should never dishonor their valor.

© Murray Montgomery
Lone Star Diary
July 3, 2010 column
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