May 31st, 2010
08:46 AM ET

Monday's intriguing people

[Updated at 1:02 p.m.] Editor's note: On Memorial Day, this column honors military personnel, some of whom have given their lives during service, as well as those who support them. This weekday feature presents profiles of people whose actions, ideas or beliefs are newsworthy.

Jacob Leicht

The U.S. military, family and friends are mourning the loss of Leicht, a U.S. Marine Corps corporal.  CNN affiliate KABB-TV in San Antonio, Texas, is reporting that Leicht was the 1,000th American GI killed in the Afghan war.

The 24-year-old from Kerrville, Texas, was killed Thursday in an explosion while on foot patrol in Afghanistan, according to the station. Jonathan Leicht, the Marine's brother, told the TV station that he had only been there for two weeks.

Before Afghanistan, Leicht underwent two years of physical therapy after injuries he suffered while fighting in Iraq in 2007.

Because CNN only counts U.S. troop deaths inside Afghanistan, the CNN tally of U.S. deaths has not reached 1,000.  Other media organizations count war-related deaths in other countries, such as in Pakistan.

CNN video: Family, friends mourn loss of 'ultimate Marine'

Clyde Jenkins

The Navy veteran from Appleton, Wisconsin, fought in three wars - and, he says, all in the same uniform.

Jenkins signed on at age 17 and served in World War II, the Korean War, and in Vietnam. According to TV stations WGBA and WPTZ, Jenkins' grandfather was in the Spanish-American War, and Jenkins' father also served in the armed forces.

Jenkins jokes that he can still get into his uniform with some assistance. "Well, I have a can of grease and two pry bars," he told WPTZ. "It does the trick."

NBC26: Triple Wisconsin veteran continues to wear uniform from 1940s

WPTZ: Wisconsin man a triple veteran

Taryn Davis

She founded the American Widow Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping women heal after the loss of their husbands "through sharing stories, tears and laughter - military widow to military widow."

Davis was about to graduate college and had married her soul mate. She was 21 years old, and they were looking forward to their lives together after his service in the Iraq war. But on May 21, 2007, her husband, Corp. Michael Davis, was killed by multiple roadside bombs an hour and a half after they last spoke.

Davis began traveling around the country to hear other women's stories of love, tragedy and survival. According to the project's website, through the willpower and strength of the women in her shoes, "she discovered that the lessons and things her husband said and did still run through her veins, and mostly ... she is not alone."

Among its activities, the project operates a 24/7 phone helpline.

American Widow Project website

Laura Browder

Even though women are officially barred from combat, that ban is virtually meaningless. That's what Browder, professor of American studies at the University of Richmond, documents in her new book, "When Janey Comes Marching Home: Portraits of Women Combat Veterans."

According to Browder, more than 220,000 women to date have served in Iraq and the surrounding regions. They are convoy gunners. They search Iraqi homes and conduct improvised explosive device sweeps. More than in any previous war in American history, women are engaging with the enemy, suffering injuries and dying in the line of duty.

The book features the oral histories of 48 modern women at war, along with photographs by Sascha Pflaeging. Browder spoke with women deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, the Panama invasion and other conflicts. She said the interviews surprised her.

"I went in thinking that since female soldiers are seen as marginal in military culture, that women would see themselves that way," she told CNN. "In fact, they see themselves as soldiers first and women second."

'When Janey Comes Marching Home' website

UNC Press: 'Janey' book details

Darrell Stafford

The interment foreman at Arlington National Cemetery leads a nearly invisible team of workers who perform a choreographed mission each day to bury the nation's war dead.

Stafford told CNN that he has been working at Arlington for nearly 28 years. He and his team dig graves, set up for the 100 graveside services each week and cover the coffins beneath the Virginia soil.

Stafford says it's an honor to do this work and that he and his team feel they are doing their part to bring closure to the families at a difficult time. Each year, more than 4 million people visit the cemetery that was designated officially as a military cemetery on June 15, 1864.

CNN: For those who do Arlington's solemn work, 'Everyone's a VIP'

Arlington National Cemetery website

soundoff (84 Responses)
  1. phelan piehota

    INTRIGUING??! as an iraq war veteran i can not believe that CNN would post such an article, the author of this article should be shamed into resigning. These men died for your freedom and you think that it is interesting??! this article makes me sick.

    May 31, 2010 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  2. Average American

    cnn and the media have reached new lows. The media should rename themselves the oBAMA-taliban news service.

    May 31, 2010 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  3. Joe, LA, CA

    CNN , you need a new staff of writers. this time no one under 40

    May 31, 2010 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  4. AGuest9

    Please hire real journalists! Any fool with a computer can write a blog, and it seems that CNN is rapidly becoming just another inane blog...

    May 31, 2010 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  5. Aziz Ali

    Must be more American killed, Innocent lot of Afgans kiied for nothing !

    May 31, 2010 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  6. Marine Mom

    My son is an active duty Marine, about to make his second deployment to Afghanistan, Were he to lose his life serving his country, it would be a TRAGEDY, not "intriguing". A new low for CNN, which has certainly sunk to the level of tabloid journalism in recent years.

    May 31, 2010 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  7. Oakton Tommy

    Pardon me, but your anti-Americanism is showing.

    May 31, 2010 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  8. Bob

    The SAD fact is nothing CNN does lately is surprising I think someone should check and see if FOX bought them. CNN you need to make massive changes, including bye bye wolf and racist Ron.

    May 31, 2010 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  9. Brenda

    Two years ago CNN (the democratic nat'l committee propoganda tool) would have 5 Democrats in this story telling us "its a quagmire and Bush should be blamed". Now the Democrats are COMPLETELY SILENT with no outrage. ITS A DEMOCRATIC AND CNN DOULBE STANDARD. Two years ago CNN would be all over the "quagmire" but they LOVE OBAMA so they don't go looking for quotes.

    May 31, 2010 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  10. Roy Savary

    Where are you Walter Cronkite, we miss you

    May 31, 2010 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  11. RU4real

    INTRIGUING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How dare you categorize the death of the 1000th G.I. as "INTRIGUING"!!!
    I can not believe that the author of this article was not questioned about his choice of words!

    Oh, and by the way, HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY!!

    CNN, you should be forced to publicly appologize for publishing this insult to all of us military members and especially to all of the family members that were left behind by the unfortunate deaths of their sons and daughters who gave their life to ensure that America continues to enjoy "Freedom".

    Freedom is not free!!!

    May 31, 2010 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  12. damiao

    In the name of oil, how many people have to die? This is the question. Shame on the policies of intervencionism, innocent people are killed day after day.

    May 31, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
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