MorgadoLt. David Johnson had a bachelor of science degree and 2nd Lt. Travis Morgado had a civil engineering degree. but both wanted to be soldiers and officers. as Morgado’s mother, Andrea Velasquez Kessler of Edmonds said of her son, a UW grad, “We told him to join the Peace Corps. but he wanted to enlist … He just always felt that he wanted to give back.” What he and Johnson and five others ultimately gave were their lives, becoming the state’s latest casualties in Afghanistan where the death toll of coalition troops hit 3,000 this week.
Johnson, 24, of Horicon, Wis., and Morgado, 25, raised in the Bay Area, were both Joint Base Lewis-McChord Stryker officers. along with Marine Lance Cpl. Ramon Kaipat, 22, of Tacoma, Stryker Spc. Philip C. S. Schiller, 21, of The Colony, Texas, Stryker Sgt. Nicholas Dickhut, 23, from Stewartville, Minn., Lewis-McChord Sgt. Michael Knapp, 28, from Overland Park, Kan., and JBLM Sgt. Jabraun Knox, 23, of Auburn, Ind., their names were just added to Seattle Weekly’s updated War Dead pages.
Not yet added is Stryker Pfc. Cale C. Miller, 23, of Overland Park, Kan., who–we learned today from Lewis-McChord command–died Thursday near Maiwand, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. He suffered fatal injuries when his vehicle was bombed by insurgents, the Army says.
His death brings the Afghanistan death toll for troops who lived or were based in Washington to 114 since October 2011. Counting the Iraq war dead, the state’s toll is 420. more than 7,500 coalition troops have died in the two wars, and hundreds of thousands of civilians.
Gen. John Allen, the man in charge of the Afghanistan war, says the drawdown of troops is moving to a second phase and that 23,000 of the 88,000 U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan will be home by September 30, CNN reports. That will still leave 65,000 troops there for likely another year.
Either way, it’s too late for some, and a hard-hitting Memorial Day weekend for the friends and families of the latest to die. Among the grieving is the mother of Dickhut, who lived in Tacoma and was a Stryker forward observer until killed in an April firefight in southern Afghanistan.
“I don’t even want to think about the fact that he’s never coming home,” Jacqueline Carson told Minnesota Public Radio. “All the plans that he had made and all the things we talked about, it’s just never going to happen. I really thought he was going to make it. I really did.”