The Catch 22 of the war in Afghanistan is the longer we stay, the longer we have to stay. The daily cost in lives and treasury makes it ever more necessary to leave, yet creates an investment that's increasingly difficult to forsake. The generals think the solution is the ongoing Iraq-style surge to decimate the enemy, followed by a drawdown this summer. Then we declare victory and go home in 2014. Meanwhile, we are left to wait and count the bodies, starting today with Sgt. William C. Stacey, 23, of Seattle.
Obituaries of Stacey, a Roosevelt High grad, and nine others now grace two new pages of War Dead on Seattle Weekly's web site, the first update since September when we published all of what then were 393 obituaries in a print edition devoted entirely to honoring the state's Iraq and Afgan fallen.
The latest casualties include another Marine, Capt. Daniel B. Bartle, 27, from Ferndale, who was one of six Americans killed when a CH-53D helicopter crashed in Helmand province last month. Also killed in January was Joint Base Lewis McChord Ranger Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin B. Wise, 34, of Puyallup, and Army Pfc. Neil I. Turner, 21, of Tacoma, who died in a non-combat-related incident in Logar province.
Army Spec. Mikayla A. Bragg, 20, of Longview, was shot and killed while on duty in a guard tower in Khowst province just before Christmas. Three Joint Base Lewis McChord Rangers were killed in October - Sgt. 1st Class Kristoffer B. Domeij, 29, of San Diego; Pfc. Christopher A. Horns, 20, of Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Army Spc. Ricardo Cerros Jr., 24, from Salinas, Calif.
Yet another JBLM Ranger, Army Sgt. Tyler Holtz, 22, of Dana Point, Calif., died in September. In a message to his family, penned in case he died, he offered a sharp contrast to the opinions of a majority of Americans, according to polls, who support an Afghan pullout now.
"I want to make myself perfectly clear about why I gave my life for this," he wrote. "Don't make the mistake of thinking I joined the Army out of some misguided, short-lived sense of patriotism . . .I know why I was fighting.
"I was fighting so that you wouldn't have to deal with or die in another 9/11. I was fighting so that you and America would never have [to] know another war on our soil. I died happy. Maybe not peacefully, but happy, and with purpose. That's all I could have ever asked for."