Washington Producer John Rutherford is a decorated Vietnam veteran. He posts a weekly tribute to service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
by John Rutherford, Producer, NBC News, Washington
Friendly fire deaths are an unfortunate casualty of any war. The Pentagon officially lists 13 American friendly fire deaths in Iraq and six in Afghanistan. The most famous was the 2004 death of former pro football player Pat Tillman in Afghanistan. At least 10 European and Canadian troops have also died in friendly fire incidents in Afghanistan. In the latest one, Dutch troops accidentally killed two of their own men during a Jan. 12 nighttime battle in southern Afghanistan.
The Army continues to investigate the Jan. 9 deaths of three members of the 101st Airborne Division to determine whether they were killed by enemy or friendly fire in Samarra, Iraq. The three soldiers died in a three-hour firefight in which U.S. aircraft blasted insurgent positions with rockets, 500-pound bombs, and .50-caliber guns. The bodies of two of the men, Pfc. Ivan Merlo, 19, of San Marcos, Calif., and Pfc. Phillip Pannier, 22, of Washburn, Ill., were found during the battle. Sgt. David Hart, 22, of Lake View Terrace, Calif., died later of his injuries.
Last week, six more soldiers died in Iraq, including another three members of the 101st Airborne. Please click here and then click on the individual photos to read their tributes.