Defense Update: Our 2,000th American Death in Afghanistan

Every additional death in any military conflict is a tragedy. But for some reason, the 100th, the 1,000th or, as in this case, the 2,000th American to die in our wars comes to symbolize a very conspicuous, sad milestone.

While we may not remember the names, I am sure most of us were shocked when we read about the 2,000th, the 3,000th and then the 4,000th American to die during the war in Iraq.

On June 13, after more than 10 years of fighting in Afghanistan, Marine Cpl. Taylor J. Baune is the 2,000th American to die in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Cpl. Taylor J. Baune, from Andover, Minn. was only 21 and was killed “while conducting combat operations in the Helmand province,” according to a statement by the U.S. military

That is the grim statistic. Now the young man behind the statistic.

According to Military.com News

[Cpl. Taylor Baune] deployed to Afghanistan on March 24, 22 days after he married his high-school sweetheart in Las Vegas among family, Colleen Baune said. The two started dating while she was 15 and he was 16 in high school.

Taylor Baune graduated from Andover High School in 2009.

“He was the most fun, carefree person,” [his wife, Colleen Baune, 20,] said. “He was always trying to make people laugh and would do whatever he could to turn someone’s day around.”

“He lit up the room when he showed up,” Colleen’s father, Randy Crooker of Anoka, said of his son-in-law.

The avid golfer followed in the footsteps of other men in his family when he joined the military, Colleen Baune said.

“It was his dream,” Colleen Baune said. “And once he sets his mind on something, you can’t change it.”

The couple planned to stay in California while Colleen Baune finished college and then to return to the Minnesota area. They liked to cook together and go bowling, Colleen Baune said. Her husband also especially liked to sing and dance.

“He was always trying to get me to do it with him,” she said.

Andover High School assistant principal Bob Bursaw called his death “sad news.” Baune transferred to Andover from Anoka High School during his junior year, Bursaw said.

Crooker said three Marines delivered the news to his daughter late Wednesday as she returned home from work in San Diego.

He also said the corporal had planned to return to civilian life after he finished his tour in November or December.

In addition to his wife, Taylor Baune is survived by a half-brother, half-sister, his father, and his in-laws. His mother died a few years ago, Colleen Baune said.

His body is expected to arrive in Dover, Del., on Saturday and be returned to Minnesota from there, Colleen Baune said.

Finally, “Baune is the 29th soldier from Minnesota to die in combat in Afghanistan,” and, now, the 2,000th fallen hero in that war.

Read more here

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Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

  • slamfu

    Dorian I’m not sure if there is an actual name for this, but its for when the war is largely over, and many of those who were ready to give their lives in battle now get the feeling that they don’t want to be the last guys to die in a war that’s already been largely concluded. I have to say, after we got Bin Laden, that’s how I would feel if I was over there. It’s unbelievably sad to me that its over a year since we killed the man who started this mess, and we have a young man just married get this tragic honorary. It must be very galling for parents whose children are still in harm’s way.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    I am sure there are many thoughts and expressions about what you are referring to, slamfu. But the first thing that came to my mind was John Kerry’s “How Do You Ask a Man to Be the Last Man to Die..” referring to the Vietnam War.

    And I do agree with you at to how tragic it all is.

  • rudi

    The 4000 and 2000 dead are tragic. But these wars are fought by strangers, not the kid next door. YET THESE TOTALS are only typical of slower years in Vietnam(1966 and 1970).
    How would the US citizens respond to over 11,000 KIA’s in a single year like 1967 thru 1969?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam_War_casualties

    By Year
    Year of Death Number Killed
    1956–1964 401
    1965 1,863
    1966 6,143
    1967 11,153
    1968 16,592
    1969 11,616
    1970 6,081
    1971 2,357
    1972 641
    1973 168
    1974–1998 1,178

    The number of causalities in just the D-Day invasion was near this total.
    http://www.ddaymuseum.co.uk/d-day/d-day-and-the-battle-of-normandy-your-questions-answered#casualities
    I’m not trivializing Iraq and Afghanistan, but comparing these wars to past wars…

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    I don’t know, Rudi.

    I believe each war, each battle, each casualty needs to be considered — and mourned — separately and in the context of the times and circumstances we are living in and the reasons for which the wars and battles are fought and our men (and women) are dying for.

    Here’s one statistic that will totally floor you: During the single Meuse-Argonne battle in 1918 – a single battle -- during World War I, we lost 26,000 Doughboys (and nearly 100,000 were wounded).

    I find it hard to make comparisons.

  • slamfu

    Not to split hairs but that battle did last over 6 weeks. Obviously if the casualty rate had been equal to D-Day the number would have been well in excess off 100,000 killed. On a side note, here is a picture of some of our boys fighting in whats left of the Argonne “Forest”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:US23rdInfantry37mmGunInActionFrance1918-ARC531005.gif

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    You’re right. slamfu,the Meuse-Argonne battle did last a long time — it must have been an eternity for our troops.

    BTW that is a superb photograph you linked to.

    Thank you