Magazine article VFW Magazine

Casualty Count in Afghan Campaign Hits 20

Magazine article VFW Magazine

Casualty Count in Afghan Campaign Hits 20

Article excerpt

Accidental aviation

mishaps push up

the U.S. toll in the war

on terrorism.

ine Marines were the latest fatal casualties in the Afghanistan campaign. In two separate crashes in January, Marine helicopters went down on land.

In the worst single loss of the campaign, seven Marines died aboard a KC-130 tanker of Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352 when it crashed in Pakistan. The unit is based in Miramar, Calif.

Ten days later, a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crashed northeast of Kabul in Afghanistan. Two Marines, assigned to Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361 of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, were killed. This unit also is out of Miramar.

A helicopter of the 101st Airborne Division also was involved in an accident. Ten of the 16 soldiers aboard were injured in the crash. Flying conditions in Afghanistan are some of the world's worst.

Near the end of January, a search-and-- destroy mission uprooted a terrorist cell in two compounds near a village called Hazar Qadam. In what was billed as the first operation carried out solely by GIs, AC-130 gunships backed up Army Special Forces in the raid. Originally, it was believed 15 Taliban fighters were killed and 27 terrorists captured. One American was wounded. However, press reports indicated that the targets may have been actually friendly Afghans fingered by rivals.

Quick strikes are likely to characterize the war in Afghanistan from here on in. "There are a lot more of these pockets," said Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

The pocket of al Qaeda in a hospital in Kandahar was finally eliminated, too. After a six-week standoff, Afghans stormed Mirwais, killing the six terrorists who still remained. …

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