US dead in Iraq quietly passes 200

Fred Feldman ffeldman at
Sat Jul 5 14:09:39 MDT 2003

The Newark Star-Ledger

U.S. death toll in Iraq quietly surpasses 200 (excerpt)
Saturday, July 05, 2003

Associated Press

They were men with military dreams -- husbands, sons and fathers from
proud communities and doting families.

One had a mischievous grin, another sang in the church choir. Some
wanted to be teachers or police officers, while one dreamed of being a
pastor and another a smokejumping firefighter. One relished showing
his fellow soldiers how to milk a cow.

It has been two months since President Bush declared the end of major
combat, but still the casualties come -- at least 66 U.S. troops have
died since that announcement, more than 200 in all. Some were killed
in combat, some in accidents, friendly fire or illness.

While taps and "Amazing Grace" continue to play at funerals across the
country, some of the fallen troops' families wonder if the sacrifices
are recognized as much now as during the height of war.

"Most everybody seems to be ignoring it," said Debra Deuel, a retired
Air Force and Gulf War veteran whose son, Army Pfc. Michael Deuel, was
shot to death June 18 while on guard duty in Baghdad.

"Our boys are still over there, and they are still in danger. The
president never did say the war was over. They misunderstood what he
said," she said.

Always a daredevil, Michael Deuel wanted to learn parachuting in the
military and eventually become a smokejumping firefighter. He loved to
bowl and read, and called the San Diego Chargers and Padres his
favorite teams. He grew up in Cheyenne, Wyo., and was a member of the
Army's 325th infantry regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division, based at
Fort Bragg, N.C.

Kelli Broomhead can't bring herself to look at her husband's things in
their Fort Carson, Colo., home. She refuses to open a closet or
drawers. Instead, she tells herself her husband is coming home.

Army Sgt. Thomas F. Broomhead was killed May 27 at a checkpoint in
Fallujah when two Iraqis stepped from their car and opened fire. He
had been deployed only since April 6, the couple's anniversary.

A devoted Colorado Rockies and Denver Broncos fan, Broomhead, 34, also
loved karaoke. His wife used to tease him about his last name, and
then it became hers, too, in 2000. Her three young sons called him
Dad, and always received individual letters from him.

For some soldiers, like Army Pfc. Branden Oberleitner, it was the
Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that compelled them to join the

On June 5, the 20-year-old from Worthington, Ohio, was killed and five
other soldiers wounded when they were fired on by a rifle-propelled
grenade in Fallujah.

"Branden did not die because of God's will, but because men and women
hate too much and love too little," the Rev. Alan Sippel told mourners
at his funeral.

The Sept. 11 attacks also motivated Pfc. Kevin Ott to enlist, and the
27-year-old's father says he wasn't afraid of dying. "He absolutely
loved Army life," said Charles Ott of Orient, Ohio.

Ott and Sgt. 1st Class Gladimir Philippe, 37, of Roselle, N.J., were
reported missing June 25 after last being seen at their post 25 miles
north of Baghdad. Their bodies were discovered three days later near
Baghdad as the American death toll topped 200.

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