By James Janega and Sara Olkon, Tribune staff reporters.
(Tribune staff reporter Michelle Keller contributed to this report)
(Published November 1, 2006)
Almost a third of the 102 U.S. troops killed in Iraq in October--the fourth deadliest month of the war--were on extended, second or third tours. At home, that prolonged exposure to danger added heartache to the deaths and underscored national anxiety over a conflict more protracted than anyone expected.
Among the first to die in October was Army Staff Sgt. Jonathan Rojas, 27, of Hammond, Ind."He should have come home," Assistant Principal Cynthia Warner said of the 1997 Hammond High School graduate, killed two months after his tour was extended. "He should be home. He shouldn't be coming home the way he did."
A Tribune analysis of Department of Defense information and interviews with family members sketched a portrait of the war U.S. troops are fighting. All but 10 of those killed in October were enlisted, their average age 24. Of those who died, 58 were killed by mines and makeshift bombs, eight fell to sniper fire and 30 more died in skirmishes on missions. Another six died in accidents and non-hostile incidents. (MORE)
Quoth John Kerry:
"How do you order someone to be the last soldier killed for a mistake?"