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Faces of the fallen

The sacrifices of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are shared unevenly in America. The small percentage of citizens who volunteer for military service, and the families they leave when sent overseas, carry the weight of those conflicts.

The rest of us may talk about the war, pay taxes to support it, or donate time and money to help the troops in the field or the veterans who return home. But those are a few drops in a bucket compared to the men and women who leave family and friends to answer their nation’s call, and nothing at all compared to the 6,808 Americans who will never return home.

Since last Memorial Day, two more Inland Northwest residents who left for the war in Afghanistan won’t be coming back. Another on overseas assignment died while on duty.

Air Force Capt. David Lyon, of Sandpoint, was killed Dec. 27 in Kabul when a car bomb detonated near his convoy. The Air Force Academy graduate was a month away from the end of his deployment.

Marine Sgt. Jacob Hess, of Spokane, was killed five days later during combat operations in Helmand province. Hess volunteered for deployment after his wife, Bridget, also a Marine, was scheduled for deployment, saying he didn’t want her going somewhere he wasn’t willing to go, too.

Not all of the losses away from home were on the battlefield. Air Force Staff Sgt. Afton Ponce, of Priest River, a member of a rescue squadron based in the United Kingdom, died in January when the helicopter she was in crashed along the British coast during a training mission.

On this Memorial Day, we add Lyons, Hess and Ponce to the Faces of the Fallen to honor their memories.

– Jim Camden

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