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. bill

    Bad headline. in perspective 1000 died at pearl harbor, over 2000 wounded. In one day.

    May 31, 2010 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
  2. Oakton Tommy

    What the hell kind of a headline is this? And on Memorial Day!!!!! CNN should apologize to this soldier's family and to all military families.

    May 31, 2010 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  3. willowment

    I was about to be swayed by A veteran's wife's argument until she said "...his death is intriguing". No death is intriguing in war in my opinion. I still think using the 1,000 death in Afghanistan in an article about intriguing people was using poor judgment.

    May 31, 2010 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Veterans Wife Too

      No Proud Veterans Wife would EVER describe a war death as being intriguing. She probably is a WANNA BE...who trolls the bars around military bases hoping she could ever be so LUCKY to marry one of them

      May 31, 2010 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
    • domesticterror

      When the soldiers die, I feel like a patriot. Look at me, I'm an intriguing corn husker who doesn't know 9/11 was an inside job.

      May 31, 2010 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Veterans Wife Too

      HHMM? What is a corn husker?

      May 31, 2010 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • A veteran's wife

      Ouch, again! Once again, to "A VETERANS wife too," I spent 21 years being a military wanna be or trolling of bars for me! My point was, and still is, that the 1000th American who died went back to that war...Iraq, then Afghanistan...and is a hero, just like ALL the others who have gone. Perhaps I should have just said that I didn't agree with the word used, but I am glad that I know about Corporal Leicht and the others mentioned in the article. My prayers are STILL with his family and to all the families who have lost someone.

      May 31, 2010 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Seattle D

    The money must be coming slow CNN...always trying to create a brand image as if you genuinely care. Please.

    May 31, 2010 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
  5. Joe Veillon

    I cannot find the words to describe my utter amazement of CNN in their choice of headline words other than you people are really idiots!!!

    May 31, 2010 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  6. ttx

    please tell all of the vets that said thank you all so much and may god keep you safe and bring you all home again

    May 31, 2010 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • domesticterror

      Screw the vets. They are all traitors who supported the gov't after the 9/11 inside job. Truly I say another intriguing dead in a 1000 intriguing deaths.

      May 31, 2010 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  7. Alfred Hussein Neuman

    WHere are CodePink, The ACLU, NYTimes and LATimes, etc "celebrating" this milestone? Of yeah, because it's under the Obama (former coke-head) admin. That CNN reports on it with the word "intriguing" should not surprise anyone.

    May 31, 2010 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  8. Kyle

    He was not a GI. He is a Marine!!!

    May 31, 2010 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  9. Tom

    INTRIGUING!!!????? The editor who let this slip by needs to make an on air statement explaining the editorial process, not excusing him or herself, but exploring how and why simple language usage, workload, someone maybe unknowingly letting the quality of their work slip merely because they wish they were with family and friends on this holiday (something Leicht and his family sacrificed) can lead to small mistakes that can offend many. I'm an editor and I know I have cringed at my blunders many times. Leicht's family should get a phone call and he should have gotten his own article. THIS IS NOT A FLUFFY HUMAN INTEREST STORY! Come on!

    May 31, 2010 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  10. Tom

    Yes, "GI"??? The 1,000th Government Issue killed. How cold. (FYI: KYLE, GI does not stand for General Infantry), it does stand for all soldiers, particularly US Soldiers but it's used loosely. It can refer moreover to uniforms, rations, other equipment and really belittles the soldier when used in a death notice. It's like announcing the death of a gun, or some other government issued material object.


    May 31, 2010 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  11. Tom

    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!

    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 10:22 am | Report abuse |
  12. Daniel A. Roberts

    I pretty much stopped coming to over issues such as this for a long time. A friend of mine told me of this article, and I couldn't believe it, even for CNN's past as a terrible place to get news. They would rather headline the deaths of so called famoous people over the deaths of our soldiers, as an example. Using the word Intriguing for this article is a slap in the face to all those who died for their country. I'm going back to blocking this website, but I also noticed the Ford ad there on the right. I'm writing Ford to let them know just how they are promoting their product next to sickening articles that start with the milestone death of a Veteran, and calling it 'Intriguing'. You may see a different ad, I don't know. My screenshot that is going with the email will be all the proof I need for Ford, plus that I won't buy another vehicle from them unless they pull their ad money from CNN. So yeah, CNN hurts Americans with this type of lousy reporting, it's time we hurt them back. Get their advertisers to abandon garbage reporting on CNN and maybe the next time they post an article about a dead soldier, it will be done with the propwer RESPECT!!!!

    May 31, 2010 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  13. Buster Morgan Barrett

    Officer Leicht? This gentleman, one of our proud protectors, doesn't deserve the mention of his first name? You idiots!

    May 31, 2010 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  14. curious steve

    whatever turns a buck.

    May 31, 2010 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  15. Anon

    Calling this young hero's death intriguing is both insulting and completely out of place. As a veteran that made it home i get choked up every time i read a story about someone who didn't and if you are just going to portray their death as "intriguing" there is something completely wrong with both your editors as well as your writers. This is a disgusting use of the english language on any day, especially the only day set aside for rememberance of these fallen heroes. You should re-word this headline, and issue a personal applogy to this young man's family. I grow more weary of this highly opionated news outlet every day.

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