Nineteen U.S. soldiers and Marines died in Iraq last week, Aug. 9-15, pushing the war's total up to then to 3,773. Here are the names and faces behind the statistics:
1. Army Sgt. Alexander Gagalac
, 28, of Wahiawa, Hawaii, was suppose to come home from Iraq today. "His plan was to get out of the Army, maybe take a break, and go to school," his twin brother, Alexis, told the Honolulu Advertiser. But Gagalac was killed when a rocket-propelled grenade hit his Humvee in Hawijah, Iraq, on Sept. 9. He was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division.
2. Army Staff Sgt. Courtney Hollinsworth
, 26, of Yonkers, N.Y., served in Afghanistan in 2002, participated in the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and returned in February for a second tour in Iraq with the 1st Infantry Division. "He just loved the Army," his uncle told the New York Daily News. "I think that's what he was born to be." Hollinsworth was killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad on Sept. 9. He leaves behind a new wife and stepchild.
3. Army Pfc. Sammie Phillips
, 19, of Cecilia, Ky., joined the Kentucky National Guard last year and left for Iraq last month. "He was one of our best gunners, the absolute cream of the crop," his commander wrote from Iraq. "He was always ready to go." Phillips died in a vehicle rollover in Rustamiyah, Iraq, on Sept. 10. He is survived by his 19-year-old widow, Ashley Marie.
4. Marine Cpl. Carlos Gilorozco
, 23, of San Jose, Calif., had a 3-month-old son, Kenny, who was born after he deployed to Iraq with the 2nd Marine Division. "I miss u my chiquito," he wrote Kenny. "I can't wait until me and u go get a hair cut together and go in a green grass and play ball." His letter arrived the day after he was killed on Sept. 10 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province.
5. Marine Lance Cpl. Jon Hicks
, 20, of Atco, N.J., was killed in the same incident as Gilorozco. Hicks had joined the Marines in 2006 to become a cop. "He wanted to be a policeman badly, and he believed if you've been in the Marines, you'd be the first chosen to be on the force," his grandmother told the Philadelphia Inquirer. Hicks would have turned 21 next month. "Only 20," his neighbor told the Newark Star Ledger. "Such a terrible loss."
The following seven members of the 82nd Airborne Division were killed Sept. 10 when their truck rolled over in Baghdad:
6. Army Staff Sgt. Yance Gray
, 26, of Ismay, Mont., was one of five members of his high school graduating class of 18 to join the military. "My son was a soldier in his heart from the age of 5," his mother told the New York Times. He was also one of the authors of an Aug. 19 op-ed piece in the Times critical of the U.S. war effort. "We operate in a bewildering context of determined enemies and questionable allies," Yance and five other soldiers wrote. Yance leaves a widow, Jessica, and a daughter, Ava, born in April.
7. Army Staff Sgt. Gregory Rivera-Santiago
, 26, of St. Croix, Virgin Islands, was on his third tour in Iraq. "He had been gone on deployment so often," his widow, Brooke, told the Virgin Islands Daily News. "He promised that when he got back this time, we would go on actual dates." His survivors include their three children, Ayani, 4, Gregory Jr., 2, and Xiomara, 7 months. "Ayani just asked, 'Who will be my daddy now?" Brooke said in the Daily News.
8. Army Sgt. Michael Hardegree
, 21, of Villa Rica, Ga., was destined to be a paratrooper. Both his grandfather and father served in the 82nd Airborne, and his grandfather pinned on his wings when he graduated from paratrooper school. "He was meant for greatness," Hardegree's adopted brother told 11 Alive News. Hardegree, who was on his second tour in Iraq, had hoped to come home in two months and enroll at the University of Alabama.
9. Army Sgt. Omar Mora
, 28, of Texas City, Texas, was passionate about playing soccer, fixing cars, and being a soldier. Originally from Ecuador, he enlisted in 2004 and was on his second tour in Iraq. Along with Gray, he was one of the authors of the New York Times op-ed piece. "We are skeptical of recent press coverage portraying the conflict as increasingly manageable," the soldiers wrote. He leaves a widow, Christa, and daughter, Jordan, 5.
10. Army Sgt. Nicholas Patterson
, 24, of Rochester, Ind., was a point guard in basketball and second baseman in baseball at Rochester High School in Rochester, Ind. He led his basketball team in scoring his senior year. "He was a highly competitive, high energy kid," his coach told the Associated Press. "You never had to worry about him not bringing his full energy to the field." Patterson is survived by his widow, Jayme, and son Reilley, 4.
11. Army Spc. Ari Brown-Weeks
, 23, of Abingdon, Md., married Ashley Weeks in December and deployed to Iraq in January. "He was everything I could have hoped for Ashley," his mother-in-law told the Baltimore Sun. Brown-Weeks was due home in November and was thinking about a career in law enforcement or firefighting. "I think he always wanted to fight the bad guys and save lives," his 21-year-old widow told the Sun.
12. Army Spc. Steven Elrod
, 20, of Hope Mills, N.C., joined the Army in 2006 to pay for college. He was considering a career in either marine biology or sports journalism. His high school English teacher said Elrod was an excellent writer. "He really had a lot of potential to go on and be somebody great," she told News 14 Carolina, "and it's just a shame that he didn't get the chance."
The following four members of the 1st Cavalry Division were killed Sept. 14 by a roadside bomb while on patrol in their Bradley Fighting Vehicle northeast of Baghdad:
13. Army Staff Sgt. Terry Wagoner
, 28, of Piedmont, S.C., followed his five uncles and a cousin into military service. Wagoner, a high school track star, served seven years in the Army and was on his second tour in Iraq when he was killed. "All my hopes and dreams I had were in my son," his father told the Greenville News. Wagoner is survived by his widow, Kate, and their 3-year-old daughter.
14. Army Spc. Todd Motley
, 23, of Clare, Mich., was voted most athletic, teacher's pet, most artistic, and most likely to succeed at Pioneer High School in 2003. "He just kind of fit into everything," Pioneer's principal told the Clare Morning Sun. "He was just a great kid." Motley entered the Army in 2005 and deployed to Iraq in 2006. He is survived by his widow, Karen, and their two daughters, Hannah, 2, and Kaylee, 9 months.
15. Army Spc. Jonathan Rivadeneira
, 22, of Jackson Heights, N.Y., was remembered as bright and affable. He joined the Army for its educational benefits and an eventual career in medicine. "I was against it," his mother told the New York Daily News. "I told him, 'Think about it because there's a war going on in Iraq.'" Rivadeneira enlisted anyway. A combat medic, he leaves a widow, Heather, whom he married two years ago.
16. Army Pvt. Christopher McCloud
, 24, of Malakoff, Texas, loved riding dirt bikes. He met his wife, Sheena, at a church function when she was 12 and he was 15. She was drawn to him by his eyes and his pranks. "Chris would do anything to make people laugh," she told the Athens Review. "He would throw a fake snake in front of someone in the woods just to see how high they would jump." Besides Sheena, McCloud is survived by their two sons, Aidan, 3, and Landyn, 2.
17. Army Sgt. John Mele
, 25, of Union City, Tenn., was on his third tour in Iraq when he was killed Sept. 14 while on patrol in Arab Jabour, southwest of Baghdad. Mele, a military policeman with the 3rd Infantry Division, entered a house and was killed by a concealed homemade bomb. "He was a good kid, never got into trouble," a friend's mother told the Union City Daily Messenger. Mele leaves a widow, Jennie, and a 6-year-old daughter, Clarissa.
18. Marine Cpl. Terrence Allen
, 21, of Pennsauken, N.J., was shot in the head and killed, apparently by a sniper, on Sept. 15, four days before he was due home from Iraq. His death at Al Asad Air Base in Anbar province, presumably a safe zone, was under investigation. "We were past worrying," his father told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "We thought he was safe." Allen leaves a widow, Catherine, whom he married a month before deploying to Iraq.
19. Army Pfc. Brandon Thorsen
, 22, of Trenton, Fla., wanted to become a game warden when he got out of the Army in two years. He enjoyed hunting deer and hogs, flat fishing, and golf with his father. "Anything outdoor, that was us," his father told the Gainesville Sun. Thorsen died on Sept. 15 of a combat-related gunshot wound in Baghdad. He was with the 1st Cavalry Division.
Washington Producer John Rutherford is a decorated Vietnam veteran. He posts a weekly blog on burials of service members at Arlington National Cemetery.