Remembering Wilmington's Casualty of the Iraq War
The 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq began 10 years ago this week - on March 19, 2003 - and although officially "over," fighting continues with discouraging persistence.
By one count, the war is directly responsible for 189,000 deaths, not including those who died from hardship caused by the fighting.
CNN has a stunning map of all casualties in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
In all, 4,802 Americans and allies have died in the war, according to the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, including 77 Massachusetts residents.
Among them, one young man with strong ties to Wilmington. From the CNN war casualties web site:
- Pfc. John Francis Landry Jr. Pfc. He was one of four soldiers killed when a roadside bomb exploded near their vehicle during combat operations in the Ghazaliya neighborhood in western Baghdad, Iraq, on March 17, 2007.
Pfc. Landry was raised in Lowell but his family is rooted in Wilmington. He was the son of John F. Landry, Sr., and Pamela (Morse) Landry.
Service to his country was in Pfc. Landry's blood. His father was a Marine and his grandfather served in the 82nd Airborne. Prior to enlisting in the Army, he had graduated with honors from Lowell Catholic High School, where he played on the football team.
Landry was born on Christmas, deployed overseas on Halloween, and tragically killed on St. Patrick's Day, 2007. Sunday marked the sixth anniversary of his death.
Wilmington Veteran's Agent Lou Cimaglia recalled Landry's death, and said the town lined the streets with flags when his body was returned to town.
"We need to remember all the sacrifices these men and women have made and continue to make," said Cimaglia. "We have to teach our children the stories of these brave men and women that volunteer during a time of war."
What Cimaglia said amazed him was that Landry's funeral, which was heavily attended by residents, friends and family, was held on a Tuesday. The next night, Landry's parents showed up at Local Heroes to pack packages, just like they did regularly before their son's death.
Cimaglia said that despite the tragic loss of life that has occurred in Iraq, it's important to look at the positives of what has gone on during the war. Women can now go to school, elections have taken place, and other signs of progress have taken place, Cimaglia said.
"It's definitely a better place," said Cimaglia. "I think we should be proud of what they've done over there."