By John Rutherford, Producer, NBC News, Washington
While America was choosing a new president, the following 17 Americans were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan in the three weeks leading up to the election:
1. Army Sgt. Daniel Wallace, 27, of Dry Ridge, Ky., deployed to Afghanistan in May with the Kentucky National Guard. He was very religious and helped his unit's chaplain. He had asked his mother to write letters to soldiers who had not received letters of their own. "Danny had a lot, a lot of sympathy for people," his mother told the Herald-Dispatch. Wallace was killed Oct. 31 by small arms fire in Badin Kheyl. He is survived by his 6-year-old son.
2. Army Pfc. Bradley Coleman, 24, of Martinsville, Va., deployed to Iraq in June with the 51st Transportation Company. He died Oct. 29 at Qayyarah Airfield from a gunshot wound. His death was under investigation. "He really liked the Army itself, but once he got to Iraq ... it was hard on him," his stepmother told the Bulletin. Coleman leaves his widow, Heather, and children, Edward, 2, and Shyanna, 1. "He was a sweet, loving person," his stepmother said.
3. Army Sgt. Scott Metcalf, 36, of Framingham, Mass., enlisted in 1990 and was a supply sergeant with the 101st Airborne Division. He was the recipient of seven Army Achievement Medals. Metcalf served in Korea and deployed at least three times to Iraq, where he died Oct. 29 in Balad of injuries suffered from a non-combat related incident that was under investigation. He leaves his widow, Betty, and daughter, Korrine. His family had no comment on his death.
4. Marine 1st Lt. Trevor Yurista, 32, of Pleasant Valley, N.Y., rode a motorcycle through the halls of his high school as a senior prank. He graduated from Officer Candidate School in 2005 and served two tours in Iraq before deploying to Afghanistan with the 1st Marine Division. His father recalled him teaching Iraqi kids how to play soccer with hundreds of donated soccer balls. Yurista was killed Oct. 27 by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan's Helmand province.
5. Army Sgt. Kevin Grieco, 35, of Bartlett, Ill., was a third-generation soldier who loved the military. "He wanted our son to go into the military as well," his wife, Rashmi, told the Tribune. "And I always said, 'No, because my hair is turning gray already.'" Grieco, with the Illinois National Guard, and another soldier were killed Oct. 27 in Baghlan, Afghanistan, by a suicide bomber. Besides Rashmi, Grieco is survived by their children, Joshua, 4, and Angeli, 2.
6. Army Sgt. Nicholas Casey, 22, of Canton, Ohio, joined the Air Force and married his high school sweetheart in 2004. He then switched to the Army for more of a challenge. "He was a gung-ho kind of boy," his father-in-law told cantonrep.com. "A neat kid." Casey, with the 7th Special Forces Group, and another soldier were killed Oct. 27 by a suicide bomber in Baghlan, Afghanistan. Casey leaves his widow, Rachelle, and their sons, Nicholas II, 3, and Curtis, 2.
7. Air Force Staff Sgt. Brian Hause, 29, of Stoystown, Pa., enlisted in 2001. He was an Air Force mechanic who enjoyed photography and motorcycles. Hause was found unconscious in his room at Balad Air Base in Iraq and rushed to the base hospital, where he died Oct. 23. His death was under investigation. "We can't understand it," his father told the Tribune-Review. "Everything seemed fine." Hause, who was divorced, leaves two children, Lexie, 7, and Cody, 4.
8. Marine Lance Cpl. San Sim, 23, was born in the Philippines, the youngest of 11 children. His family escaped from Cambodia and the Kymer Rouge and eventually settled in Santa Ana, Calif., where Sim wrestled in high school. He was on his third overseas tour when he and another member of the 1st Marine Division were shot and killed Oct. 22 during a routine patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Sim, who was due home this month, leaves his widow, Karia.
9. Marine Cpl. Adrian Robles, 21, of Scottsbluff, Neb., had barely played soccer before going out for the team his senior year in high school to get in shape for the Marines. "We had to help him learn some of the skills, and he became one of our goalkeepers," his coach told the Journal Star. "He was always willing to learn, and very enthusiastic." Robles and another member of the 1st Marine Division were killed Oct. 22 in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
10. Army Spc. Dean Taylor, 30, of Bronx, N.Y., was an undercover New York City cop who deployed to Afghanistan in January with the New York National Guard. One of 258 New York police officers on leave for military service, he was killed Oct. 22 by a roadside bomb in Bela Beuk. "He was really close with his mother," a neighbor told Newsday. "She's taking it really bad." Taylor, who was engaged to be married next summer, is also survived by his 8-year-old son.
11. Marine Lance Cpl. Stacy Dryden, 22, of North Canton, Ohio, graduated from high school in 2004, worked at a fast-food restaurant and a few other jobs, and joined the Marines in 2007. "She thought the Marines were the most challenging of all the services," her cousin told the Beacon Journal. "She always wanted to try new things." Dryden, with the 1st Marines Logistics Group, died Oct. 19 from injuries suffered in a non-hostile incident in Anbar province, Iraq.
12. Army Capt. Robert Lindenau, 39, of Camano Island, Wash., received a bachelor's degree in music in 1992 and a master's of music in classical guitar performance in 1996 from the University of Idaho at Moscow. He joined the Army in 1996 and was serving in Afghanistan with the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade when he was killed Oct. 20 in Charbagh by a rocket-propelled grenade. He leaves his widow, Tonya, and their children, Rachel, Gabe, Sarah, and Hannah.
13. Army Pfc. Heath Pickard, 21, of Palestine, Texas, loved baseball, football, hunting, and fishing. He also matured after he enlisted. "He knew what was important in life," his high school principal told the AP. "There's a lot of folks who don't figure that out their entire lives." Pickard was in Iraq with the 25th Infantry Division when he died Oct. 16 of wounds suffered from indirect fire in Baquaba. He leaves his widow, Sara, and son, Ethan, 4 months.
14. Army Pfc. Cody Eggleston, 21, of Eugene, Ore., enlisted after graduating from North Eugene Alternative High School in 2007. He deployed to Iraq in September with the 25th Infantry Division and died Oct. 24 of wounds suffered Oct. 16 from indirect fire in Baquabah. Eggleston is survived by his widow, Karie, whom he married in June, and her daughter, Raegan, 6. "They were very much looking forward to taking a honeymoon," a family friend said in a statement.
15. Army Spc. Justin Saint, 22, of Albertville, Ala., looked forward to coming home this month from Iraq, where he was serving with the 18th Airborne Corps and had recently learned he was being promoted to sergeant. He was also excited about a new assignment that entailed traveling around the world working in security communications. "He was just sitting around chilling," his father told the Times. Saint died Oct. 15 in Baghdad in a non-combat related incident.
16. Army Sgt. Federico Borjas, 33, of San Diego, Calif., was a Florida native who served in the Marines, as a San Diego police officer, and in the Army reserves. He was called to active duty in August and was killed Oct. 16 in Bermel District Center, Afghanistan, by a gunman. Borjas, with the 351st Civil Affairs Command, was one of 18 San Diego police officers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and the first one to die. He leaves a daughter, Yvette.
17. Army Sgt. John Penich, 25, of Beach Park, Ill., played French Horn in his high school band and also enjoyed mountain biking, four-wheelers, and paintball. He and his brother went on a hunting trip to Canada in 2003. "He loved hunting and loved riding Harleys," his brother told the News Sun. Penich, on his first tour of duty in Afghanistan with the 1st Infantry Division, was killed Oct. 16 in Karangol Village by indirect fire. The incident was under investigation.
A total of 4,193 Americans have been killed in Iraq since 2003 and 555 have died in Afghanistan since 2001, according to the Pentagon.
Click here to view tributes to the 437 service members killed this year in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the following six casualties from last week:
1. Army Sgt. Nicholas Casey, 22, of Canton, Ohio.
2. Army Sgt. Kevin Grieco, 35, of Bartlett, Ill.
3. Marine 1st Lt. Trevor Yurista, 32, of Pleasant Valley, N.Y.
4. Army Sgt. Scott Metcalf, 36, of Framingham, Mass.
5. Army Pfc. Bradley Coleman, 24, of Martinsville, Va.
6. Army Sgt. Daniel Wallace, 27, of Dry Ridge, Ky.
Washington Producer John Rutherford is a decorated Vietnam veteran. He also posts stories on the military at www.fieldnotes.msnbc.com (click on "John Rutherford" under "categories") and at http://john-rutherford.newsvine.com. The first tribute gallery can be found at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22802019/ and the second at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27336564.