There are two rules of war, a wise man once said. Rule one is that in war, young men and women die. Rule two is that nothing can change rule one.
Even with all combat troops removed from Iraq over the past year, and a deadline set to remove troops from Afghanistan, the Inland Northwest has five more young men, all of them in their 20s, to honor this Memorial Day as the nation mourns its fallen.
Spc. Nathan Beyers, 24, and Spc. Nicholas Newby, 20, of Coeur d’Alene, were killed by an explosive device in an attack on their convoy in Baghdad. Staff Sgt. Wyatt Goldsmith, 28, of Colville, was killed in Helmand province in Afghanistan by insurgents with rocket-propelled grenades. Lance Cpl. Nickoulas Elliott, 21, of the Spokane area, was killed in a helicopter collision while training for an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. Airman 1st Class Tyler Patton, 20, of Coeur d’Alene, was just back from a tour in Afghanistan when he was killed in a traffic accident at a British military base.
Those five are part of the nearly 2,000 U.S. military lives lost because of fighting in Afghanistan and almost 4,500 in Iraq. Some years the toll is greater in this region, where military service is deeply ingrained; some years it’s less. But for the families and friends of these five and the other men and women pictured here and at spokesman.com/photos, numbers are irrelevant. Each death is important because each life was important and worth remembering every day, but especially Memorial Day.
– Jim Camden, staff writer