(guest blogged by Logan Murphy)
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As many of you know, the last weekend of January was one of the deadliest for U.S. soldiers in the ongoing occupation of Iraq. Among the casualties were 12 National Guardsmen who died when their Blackhawk helicopter crashed northeast of Baghdad.
Newsweek digs deeper than reporting the number and provides a glimpse into the lives of the 12 soldiers and the impact on their families. Together, the twelve left behind 34 children and at least a dozen grandchildren. To put a face to the losses is devastating. Take this heartbreaking example:
Cpl. Victor Langarica did not share (his fellow troops') optimism about the mission in Iraq. From the moment he received his deployment orders last April, he seemed convinced that he would not leave the war zone alive. Worse, he believed that he was going to die for no good reason. A twice-divorced single father of a young son and daughter, he had joined the Army hoping to gain the skills that would lead to higher pay than he made at Home Depot. His mother and ex-wives looked after the kids while he was overseas. He was proud of the nine months he served in combat in Afghanistan after 9/11, but the experience left the lighthearted 29-year-old sullen and fearful. Once he was surprised by an Afghan soldier who put a gun to his head. Just as the soldier was about to fire, a fellow American shot the Afghan dead. He never found out who had saved his life, but thought of him as an angel.
Unlike most of the others who died in the crash, Langarica was regular Army. But when he got his deployment papers to Iraq, he didn't want to go. The invasion made no sense to him. " 'I don't understand why Bush is doing this to us'," his mother, Pearl Lucas, recalled his saying. " 'If I die, I won't know why I died, if it was for oil or for revenge'."
[..]In November, Langarica was granted a two-week leave. He returned to the United States to visit his mother and daughter in Decatur, Ga., and his son in Brunswick, Md. He told relatives that he dreaded returning. His aunt urged him to desert the Army and seek refuge in Nicaragua, where she and his mother were born. But Langarica was determined to finish out his tour, and returned to Iraq. Before he left, he told friends he didn't think he was going to see them again. He had already convinced himself he was "an angel of God-no matter what happens I will always be around." In a letter to his mother in 2003, he had confided, "I know it sounds crazy, but I really believe I am [an angel]."
The night before the helicopter flight, he called home for the last time, certain that he would die the next day. "You better make it," his mother told him. "Your kids are waiting here for you." She put his 6-year-old daughter, Devina, on the phone to talk with him. When he got back on the line with his mother, he was crying.
"I will remember you every second," he said.
Let's face it, the human cost of King George's war will never truly be known. Those numbers are startling, but keep in mind - they don't include the soldiers' spouses, extended family or close friends, and just as bad, it ignores the exponential losses of innocent Iraqis as well. Our wartime President doesn't attend military funerals, nor does he want us to see pictures of our soldier's flag-draped coffins. Putting a human face to this clusterf**k you've created doesn't sit well with you, does it, George?