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 fou/nd 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
(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
July 3, 2010 column