April 10, 2009:
The U.S. 172nd Infantry Brigade was in Iraq for nearly four months before it suffered its first combat death on April 5th. Specialist Israel Candelaria Mejias was killed when a mine went off near him. Since December, two other soldiers of the 172nd died of non-combat related causes. Last month, nine American soldiers died in Iraq. Since the 172nd has been in Iraq, 56 American soldiers have died there. About 80 soldiers a month are wounded throughout the country. By the time the 172nd leaves Iraq at the end of the year, between one and two percent of its soldiers will have been killed or wounded. A larger percentage will have become injured in accidents, or sick enough to be hospitalized. Thus Iraq is still a combat zone, and a generally rough neighborhood, with this brigade suffering 4-5 percent suffering injuries or serious sickness during their one year tour.