(CNSNews.com) – The number of non-combat casualties suffered by U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom in July was greater than the number of combat casualties, a Defense Department spokesman told CNSNews.com.
“It’s six and five,” Lt. Col. Les’ Melynk, a Defense Department (DOD) spokesman, told CNSNews.com, referring to the six U.S. troops the department categorized as non-combat casualties in July and the five whose deaths it categorized as combat.
These numbers may not be final, however, Melynk said, because the DOD is limited by law from releasing the names of casualties until after the next of kin is notified.
There is also one dispute over the listing of a casualty. On July 17, the Defense Department released a statement saying that Army Staff Sgt. David W. Textor had died in Mosul on July 15 as the result of “injuries suffered from a vehicle accident.”
The statement said: “The incident is under investigation.” Textor is now considered a non-combat casualty.
On July 19, however, The Buffalo News ran a story headlined, “Soldier’s family says he died in combat; Army’s first report of accident denied.” The story quoted Debbie Faultner-Vondra, identified as the sister of Textor’s wife, saying: “He died in action. They were attacked. They were targeted.”
The Buffalo News story also quoted Capt. Chris Augustine, a spokesman for the Special Forces Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., who said, "Once the investigation is complete, the Army will be able to release a statement that encompasses everything that occurred in relation to Sgt. Textor's death.”
Melynk told CNSNews.com on Friday: “The incident is under investigation, and that typically means non-combat.”
Of the five U.S. troops who were killed in combat in Iraq in July, three died as a result of IED explosions, one was killed when a grenade hit the vehicle in which he was riding, and another was killed by a sniper.
These five combat casualties in July 2008 compare to 69 combat casualties in July 2007, a drop of almost 93 percent.
U.S. Combat Casualties in Iraq in July
Army Spc. William McMillan, 22, of Lexington, Ky., was killed July 8 by an IED in Baghdad.
Sgt. 1st Class Steven J. Chevalier, 35, of Flint, Mich., died July 9 in Balad, of wounds suffered in Samarra when his patrol vehicle was struck by a grenade.
Army Jeremy Vrooman, 26, of Sioux Falls, S.D., was killed July 15 by an IED in Baghdad.
Marine Staff Sgt. Danny Dupre, 28, of Lockport, La., was killed July 15 in Ramadi by sniper fire.
Sgt. James A. McHale, 31, of Fairfield, Mont., died July 30 at the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., of wounds suffered July 22 by an IED that exploded near his vehicle in Taji.
Non-Combat Casualties in Iraq in July
Army Sgt. 1st Class Anthony L. Woodham, 37, of Rogers, Ark., died on July 5 of injuries suffered in a non-combat incident at Camp Adder, Tallil, Iraq. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported on July 16 that he died of a cardiac arrest.
Lance Cpl. Jeffery S. Stevenson, 20, of Newton, N.J., died July 13 from a non-hostile incident in Al Anbar province. Reporting on his funeral on July 20, the Newark Star Ledger said: “As of yesterday, the circumstances surrounding Stevenson's death were still unclear, and military officials said it could be a year before they release autopsy results, the family said.”
Navy Petty Officer Daniel R. Verbeke, 25, of Exton, Pa., died July 14 in Paoli, Pa., of complications from injuries he suffered in a flight deck accident in December 2005 while serving aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. “Mr. Verbeke was left a quadriplegic after being injured when he was hit by a piece of equipment while trying to repair a cable on the flight deck. He suffered traumatic brain injury, a collapsed lung, fractured vertebrae and fractured ribs,” The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on July 17.
Staff Sgt. David W. Textor, 27, of Roanoke, Va., died July 15 in Mosul, Iraq, of injuries suffered from a vehicle incident as noted above.
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jackie L. Larsen, 37, of Tacoma, Wash., died of natural causes July 17 at Balad Air Base, Iraq.
On Aug. 1, the AFP reported on the sixth as yet-unidentified non-combat casualty in Iraq for July: “‘A U.S. soldier died in a non-combat related incident while conducting operations in Nineveh province July 31,’ according to military statement late Thursday,” the Agence France-Presse reported.