Cpl. Sean Collins, Sgt. Jason Peto Bring State's SW Asia War Toll to More Than 30 This Year

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Christmas is just something you have to get through for the friends and families of Army Cpl. Sean M. Collins, 25, of Yelm, and Marine Sgt. Jason D. Peto, 31, of Vancouver, who were just added to SW's Facing Our Losses pages, the only full accounting of Washington's Southwest Asia war dead. It isn't a merry 2010, as well, for the families of 21 other troops with Washington ties who died in Afghanistan this year, bringing the state's total in that war to almost 90, and the 10 who died in the downsized Iraq War, making the state's toll there more than 300.

That's almost 400 who have died in Afghanistan, the Philippines, Pakistan, and Iraq since October 2001. All were raised, based, or had family in Washington. Ages 18 to 53, they left behind 240 children, 166 widows, and four widowers. Army Sgt. Nathan Chapman, 31, of Puyallup, was the first to die in Afghan combat. As of today, 5,867 U.S. military have died in southeast Asia this decade.

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A Yelm High grad, Collins and five other soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, Ky., were killed in a Dec. 12 suicide bomb attack in Kandahar province that also leveled a building. Collins "always wanted to be in the Army," said brother Travis. "I think it was the fiber of his being."

Peto, a Mountain View High grad, died Dec. 7 from wounds received Nov. 24 while on patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif. Peto's father and brother also were Marines. "He really felt it was a noble and just cause," said family friend Blaine Lanz.

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