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. Eva

    What we need is more Peace Nobel Prize for the war president.
    Funny, I thought peace was when nobody died in a war.

    May 31, 2010 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Anon

      Some say peace will only be achieved when everyone has died from war. There are a lot of ways to look at it. Anyone alive today has not really lived in a peaceful world.

      May 31, 2010 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Military Historian

      Todd C, you should listen closely to what Bill Ritzer has to say. After all, he proudly served in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, the first Gulf War, Vietnam, Korea, WW2, WW1, the Spanish-American War, the Civil War, the Mexican-American War, the War of 1812, and the American Revolutionary War.

      May 31, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Todd C

    People, lighten up. "Monday's Intriguing People" is a weekly column on CNN. Usually it covers people who made news in the past week. They decided to use the column to honor our veterans in honor of Memorial Day. That's a good thing.

    May 31, 2010 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Bill Ritzer

      You ever serve in the military Todd C? It is evident you have not.

      May 31, 2010 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  3. Anon

    Today is about celebrating the lives of those who have fallen in defense of this great nation. Today is THEIR day. It is not intriguing in the least bit that this young man had to die. It is horrible and it is sad. What is intriguing about the story is the fast that the man went through years of physical therapy overcomming injuries sustained in iraq just to be killed senselessly in afghanistan. This story is appropriate, he should be honored and remembered, but your writer's poor choice of words and your editor's inability to see this is insulting to both his family and all those vets who have ever fallen, and those who made it home. Shame on you. Re-word this story now.

    May 31, 2010 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  4. Scott Ballinger

    INTRIGUING???? Is this the best CNN could do? There is no depth to which this organization will sink to exploit the tragedy of war – or so I thought. The manangement at CNN owes an apology to this familiy and the families of all service members on this Memorial Day! Absolutely shameless!

    May 31, 2010 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  5. Eva

    People, don't you realize that by worshiping soldiers you are enabling the war? Only an utter rejection of the war and the function of a soldier was able to end the Vietnam war. Let's not celebrate killing.

    May 31, 2010 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Bill Ritzer

      What exactly are you smoking Eva? The reason that we can say pretty much what we want on this second rate blog is because of the American soldiers who died for, in small part, the first amendment. These men are heroes and are directly responsible for the US citizens living in the most free country in the world.

      May 31, 2010 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Anon

      Eva i do not agree at all with your statement, and as a veteran who was lucky enough to make it home after 3 tours in iraq, i am glad that i could in some small way make it possible for you to say it. I have no more words for you.

      May 31, 2010 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Tyokol

      Eva, the Vietnam war did not stop because the pot heads took to the streets to protest against it and rejected military people and their sacrifice. Study some history and don't believe the stories your draft dodger father told you. Learn that this country is the great country it is because people work hard, are smart (most Nobel prizes than any other country by far) and because of the sacrifices of our military. You are free to stand on the soil you stand on because of them. You are free to say what you want (thank them), but I could not enable your ignorance by staying quiet.

      May 31, 2010 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  6. Dan

    As a Canadian who is thankful for the sacrifices our troops are making in Afghanistan, I am equally thankful for the sacrifices of the American troops. On your Memorial Day, I say God Bless America and it's soldiers.

    May 31, 2010 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Anon

      Dan, as a veteran i sincerely thank you. I thank all of those who died in the defense of any free nation.

      May 31, 2010 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  7. Eva

    C'mon people, you find a horror movies intriguing and you find killing and soldiers intriguing. Otherwise you wouldn't be reading this.

    May 31, 2010 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  8. aeolien

    Stupid CNN! What you gonna write about next; top 100 killed countdown.

    May 31, 2010 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  9. Veterans Wife Too


    May 31, 2010 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  10. Intrigued

    It's intriguing how CNN made "intriguing" so intriguing...

    May 31, 2010 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  11. Paul

    Intriguing? Wow! Talk about inappropriate. As a vet I find your wording to be highly offensive. I just changed my home page from CNN to the Google News. I won't waste my time on your website any longer.

    May 31, 2010 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  12. Ben Rietze

    Intriguing. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Fire the author of this article and the supervisor that allowed it to air! We need to honor our fallen soldiers, especially on Memorial Day! As a Viet Nam vet, I salute this brave marine who gave his life for his country!!

    May 31, 2010 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  13. Charlie

    Intriguing – arousing great interest or curiosity. So yes these are intriguing stories. Anyone who doesn't care about these people or find their stories interesting either lacks English language skills or is in Al Qaeda.

    May 31, 2010 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  14. Srysly

    wow... just changed my homepage.

    May 31, 2010 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  15. Dick Lepre

    It is difficult to fathom the depth of stupidity and callousness required for a news organization to use the word "intriguing" to describe, on Memorial Day, the death of a U.S. Marine corporal.

    May 31, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
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