In case you missed it - and most of the world did - yesterday was the 6 th anniversary of the start of Operation Enduring Freedom,


Oh - And About That Other War

In case you missed it - and most of the world did - yesterday was the 6th anniversary of the start of Operation Enduring Freedom, the "good" war in Afghanistan. It particularly resonates here: Five of the first 25 American troops to die there were from Washington, including Nate Chapman of Puyallup, the first soldier to die from enemy fire in the war on terror. Here's brief mention of those five of now 21 soldiers with state connections to have been among the more than 430 KIA:

Ninth to die, Dec. 5, 2001-Army Staff Sgt. Brian Cody Prosser, 28, whose mother lives in Seattle. Prosser was one of three Special Forces soldiers killed by friendly fire when an errant 2,000-pound bomb missed its target. "Cody is a hero, and I will love and miss him for the rest of my life," said his widow, Shawna.  

12th to die, Jan. 4, 2002-Army Sgt. 1st Class Nathan R. Chapman, 31, Puyallup, a Special Forces soldier based at Fort Lewis. Chapman and a CIA officer were searching for Al Qaeda members and were killed by a sniper after leaving a meeting with local Afghan leaders.  "I can assure the parents and loved ones of Nathan Chapman," said George Bush, "that he lost his life for a cause that is just and important."

15th to die, Jan. 9, 2002-Marine Sgt. Nathan P. Hays, 21, of Wilbur in Lincoln County, one of seven Marines killed in a KC-130 crash in Pakistan. His father, James Hays, is a Washington State Patrol trooper.   "If you ever met a guy who wasn't afraid of anything," said friend Chris Rettkowski, "it was this guy."

24th to die, Feb. 21, 2002-Air Force Staff Sgt. Juan M. Ridout, 36, Oak Harbor, who, with Army Sgt. Thomas Allison (below) was aboard a chopper that crashed into the sea in the southern Philippines. Ridout had been named the squadron's pararescueman of the year in 1999 for heroism, exchanging gunfire with enemy forces while rescuing an F-16 pilot shot down in Serbia.  

25th to die, Feb. 21, 2002-Army Sgt. Thomas Allison, 22, of Roy in Pierce County. He was flight engineer with a Special Ops regiment known as the Night Stalkers, a commando force seeking to rescue a nurse and an American missionary couple. During basic training, he wrote his parents Pat and Buddy Allison about the price of war: "I need to say something: For the next six years, I will be more or less away from home. A lot can happen in that time ... one of those is death ..."

I attended Allison's memorial service. "I don't know how these parents handle this," a WWII vet who'd just buried two war buddies of his own told me. "They were old guys. You can deal with that. Allison, he was just a kid."  

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