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. greenman

    intriguing? that's what you call this? I guess his family and friends arer intrigued also. I am certainly intrigued by the bottomless depths of utter stupidity the news media is capable of. what a profoundily stupid, insensitive, ugly, exploitive thing to do, to call this man's death intriguing.

    May 31, 2010 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
    • paminsand

      I agree. I am mortified that CNN would post something so disrespectful to this young man and his grieving family. Intriguing???? Shame on the author and SHAME ON YOU CNN

      May 31, 2010 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Mrs B

      Agree 100%. It appears that this inept so called journalist should start referring to the dictionary when writing their articles. The word used should have been HEARTBREAKING. As the proud wife of a soldier currently serving in Iraq I am greatly offended by this writesr choice of words. I think somebody needs a size 12 military boot in the ass. On this Memorial Day before you stick that first hot dog or burger in your mouth please REMEMBER THOSE WHO HAVE GIVEN THEIR LIVES SO THAT WE MAY LIVE FREE and PRAY FOR ALL THOSE WHO ARE STILL IN HARMS WAY... TO MY HUSBAND CW2 BERALDI I LOVE YOU AND MISS YOU .. SEE U IN 19 DAYS 🙂

      May 31, 2010 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Bill Ritzer

      Only insensitive, uninformed, uncaring and unbelievably biased thought processes could make the death of one of our soldiers "intriquing". Mainstream press is sooooo out of touch with reality...

      May 31, 2010 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Cassandra Wilson

      CNN is NOT saying Leicht's death is intriguing, but rather, his life–particularly his service to this country. Think about it: he served in Iraq just three years ago, was injured, underwent TWO years of physical therapy and returned to combat in Afghanistan, where fighting has increased dramatically...And he's only 24! That kind of bravery and dedication is intriguing, especially for someone so young AND already a combat veteran. Others his age may have taken the discharge that I'm sure was offered to Leicht. Either way, they're ALL heroes, but Cpl. Leicht was extra ordinary. His injury must have been pretty severe to need two years of therapy, but he returned to combat almost as soon as his therapy ended. What makes a young man so dedicated to his country? the Marine Corps? his comrades? Pretty remarkable, I'd say, and definitely intriguing. This young man was exceptional. I hope memories of Leicht's strength, courage and bravery comfort his loved ones. Thank you, Cpl. Jason Leicht. Well done, good and faithful servant.

      May 31, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Cassandra Wilson

      BTW...Leicht was born on the 4th of July in a naval hospital. He was destined for military service. For those who complained about the brevity of the article, click the link just after it to watch the video about him.

      May 31, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      CNN is run by a bunch of MORONS!!!

      May 31, 2010 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Theodore

      Intriguing? Is there no editor on It doesn't matter what this CNN writer "meant to say," the word choice is astoundingly poor.

      May 31, 2010 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  2. johnnyhouse

    Every soldiers death is tragic.We owe them our well being on this day.

    May 31, 2010 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      The best way to honor our war dead is to have no more wars... esp useless wars such as the Iraq and Afghan wars.
      I don't understand why good men and women enlist into such a corrupt organization.

      May 31, 2010 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  3. bolderboulder

    Right on, greenman. CNN, get a clue – how insensitive can you be, on Memorial Day, no less. Disgusting.

    May 31, 2010 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
    • domesticterror

      I think it's intriguing you supported the troops in the first place.

      May 31, 2010 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  4. johng

    Intriguing??? Really CNN? this is how you describe a soldiers death? you are pathetic!

    May 31, 2010 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
  5. Richard

    This is Disrespectful use of the Dead. Please remove it. My Condolences to the Family and Friends.

    May 31, 2010 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
  6. Carol

    "intriguing" does seem to be a poor choice of words.

    May 31, 2010 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
  7. Rob

    I honor this man. CNN does not. I agree with Greenman "Intriguing?" What a JOKE!
    CNN, start thinking twice please. Or maybe start thinking period!

    May 31, 2010 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
  8. Alex in Gig Harbor, WA

    CNN, please rewrite the headline!

    May 31, 2010 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
  9. A veteran's wife

    According to the Merriam-Webster On-line Dictionary, "intriguing" means "engaging the interest to a marked degree." It should engage your interest to a marked degree that this Marine fought in Iraq, underwent 2 years of physical therapy, BUT, he STILL went back to do what he thought was his Afghanistan this time! As the 1000th military member killed in Afghanistan, his death is "intriguing." My thoughts and prayers are with his family, and I'm thankful to Corporal Jacob Leicht for his service to our country!

    May 31, 2010 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Veterans Wife Too

      The only thing INTRIGUING about this article is that the writer was so INSENSITIVE to use that word to describe a BRAVE MARINES death ...I couldnt even make it past that head line to read the article. Are you sure you are A VETS wife?

      May 31, 2010 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Bill Ritzer

      This mans life and the way he lived it is waaaay past intriguing. I agree with you that he should be highly commended for his actions but I disagree that the word to describe his dedication, love of country and love of his comrades and indescribable sense of duty is "intriguing". One simple word cannot, and will not, describe this mans life and death.

      May 31, 2010 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
    • A veteran's wife

      I AM a veteran's wife...21 years worth, thank you! I am NOT condoning the use of "intriguing" fact, if you read what I said AGAIN, I said...not very happily...that he is the 1000th death...he is definitely a hero to me because he CHOSE to go back even after 2 years of what had to be painful physical therapy!

      May 31, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. M.

    Shame on you, CNN, for calling this Intriguing. Completely pathetic. My condolences to this honorable man's family and friends, who assuredly are grieving for the loved one they lost.

    May 31, 2010 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
  11. willowment

    I could not believe the writer of this article used the word "Intriguing" to report the 1,000th US death in Afghanistan.! I saw the reference on the home page and was confused. But then when I saw the article I was absolutely taken aback. I echo greenman's sentiments and add UGH!

    May 31, 2010 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |

    I think that the death of a soldier is a sad and somber thing and in not intriguing.

    May 31, 2010 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
  13. Richard

    CNN Please change this Headline to Honor the Fallen, anything but what you have.

    May 31, 2010 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
  14. A veteran's wife

    And, the article, was also talking about OTHERS too...a veteran, a military widow (Taryn Davis, founder of the American Widows Project), female combat veterans, and the interment foreman at Arlington National Cemetery...all worthy of our respect! What they are and what they do should engage your interest.
    On Memorial Day, try to forgive for the use of a word that was used! The Marine who died and the others mentioned in the article are now definitely people who I will remember.

    May 31, 2010 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      YOU ARE CORRECT and I thank you so much for your empathy of editors. You are right, it is literally intriguing, but editors must consider connotations of words, not just definitions. YOUR GOOD ENERGY is much needed. Thanks again.

      May 31, 2010 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • A veteran's wife

      I AM a veteran's wife...21 years worth, thank you! I am NOT condoning the use of "intriguing" fact, if you read what I said AGAIN, I said...not very happily...that he is the 1000th death...he is definitely a hero to me because he CHOSE to go back even after 2 years of what had to be painful physical therapy!

      May 31, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. david

    "intriguing" is the wrong word for this column ... show some respect, especially on Memorial Day
    CNN editors – are you reading these comments? The last 13 said the same thing ....

    May 31, 2010 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
    • domesticterror

      9/11 was an inside job. SUPPORT? You are intriguing.

      May 31, 2010 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
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