We honor 11 American servicewomen who gave their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken their toll. Since 2001, more than 6,700 American men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan have died. Though the war in Iraq officially ended in 2011, the conflict in Afghanistan lingers and casualties continue to be counted.
For the first time in United States history, women are (officially) fighting side by side with men. As more women enlist and serve, more women will sacrifice their lives for their country. Today we’re highlighting just a few of the many American women who have lost their lives while serving overseas.
“I had the HONOR to work with 1st LT Schulte.When the news came in that she was gone everyone that knew her had not only lost the best Officer on post but also lost their best friend,” writes SPC John Barnett. 1st Lt. Roslyn Littmann Schulte died May 20, 2009, while serving as an USAF Intelligence Officer in Afghanistan. A native of St. Louis, she later attended the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she captained the lacrosse team. She became the first female graduate of the Air Force Academy to be killed in action. She was 25.
Bosveld enlisted in the Army when she graduated from high school in June 2002, following in the footsteps of her father and brother. Her mother said she desperately tried to talk her daughter out of it. “She said, ‘I know, Mom, but I have to do this … I want to keep up the family tradition.’” Mary Bosveld said. Bosveld, 19, of Waupun, Wisconsin, died Oct. 26 in an attack at a police station near Baghdad. She was stationed with the military police in Germany. When she first got to Iraq, she was ready to “kick butt,” said her father, Marvin Bosveld. But after eight months in the sands of Iraq, barely surviving a roadside ambush and patrolling anti-American riots, she had had enough. “More and more people want us to go home,” she wrote to her father. “Believe me, we want to go home.” Marvin Bosveld and his former wife, Mary, were foster parents to Rachel who came to them as a neglected baby. The couple adopted her. Craig Bosveld described his sister as an artist who loved to draw forest scenes, play her violin and act in her high school drama club. She hoped one day to become a graphic artist.
Kamisha J. Block attended high school on a mission: to study, graduate and get to the military. She didn’t intend on doing it alone. Ever the focused motivator, Block encouraged friends and classmates to move toward the same goal, school registrar LaDonna Clark said. “She was their fire,” Clark said. “She said ‘I’m not going to graduate until you do,’ and pushed them hard.” Block, 20, of Vidor, Texas, was killed Aug. 16, 2007 in a friendly fire incident Baghdad. She was a 2005 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Hood. “Whatever she set her mind to, she could accomplish,” said Hollie Stinnett. Block’s cousin. “I saw her the day before she left to go to Iraq earlier this year, and she still talked about how she wanted to get into law enforcement once she finished her term in the Army.” In high school, he worked at a Waffle House. “Not a customer that ever walked through this door ever saw her with a frown,” said Arnette Buck, a co-worker. “She loved people,” Block’s uncle John Stuckey said. “She was out to help people with whatever she could.” She is survived by parents Jerry and Jane.
Wayne T. Jackson, an uncle of Alicia A. Birchett, recently came across a bit of insight into why she joined the Army. Looking at a photo she had given him before she shipped out to Iraq, he discovered a note written on the back that he had not previously noticed: “I am doing this to make you proud.” Birchett, 29, of Mashpee, Massachusetts, died Aug. 9 in Baghdad of injuries from a non-combat accident. She was a 1995 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Campbell. “This one here was a gem,” said Robert T. Hendricks, a cousin. “She always put everybody else first.” A member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, she enlisted in the Army in 1996 and served five international tours in her 12 years in the Army, including stints in Germany and Korea. “My wife was a strong, loving, giving person,” said her husband, Joe Birchett. “She loved to take care of people.” She also is survived by three young sons: Joe, Julian and Silas.
Back in third grade, Kimberly Hampton wrote a paper that described how she had always wanted to fly. “We gave that to her as part of her graduation gift from Army flight school, and I think it pretty much blew her away that she had written such things as that as far back as the third grade,” said her father, Dale Hampton. Capt. Hampton, 27, of Easley, South Carolina, was killed Jan. 2 when the helicopter she was piloting was shot down near Fallujah, Iraq. Hampton, based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, was the first female pilot killed in Iraq. An honors graduate from Presbyterian College, she was the battalion commander of the ROTC unit there. Her leadership was clear even before then. In high school, she was president of the student body and captain of the tennis team. Hampton was in her second term of military service, having earlier served in Korea and Afghanistan. She had planned to marry Army Capt. Will Braman when they both returned from Iraq. “She was doing what she enjoyed doing. She was trained well, and she felt it an honor to serve her country,” said her mother, Ann.
Visit our Wars in Iraq & Afghanistan Memorial and join us in paying tribute to U.S. service members lost in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Keicia M. Hines was working in the arms room handing out weapons when she met Sean Hines. They married on Christmas Eve in 2001. “We clowned a lot. We had fun, bottom line. I was in love with her,” Sean Hines said. The 27-year-old soldier from Citrus Heights, California, died after being struck by a vehicle in Mosul, Iraq, on Jan. 14. She was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Sean Hines said his wife loved the movies and loved to shop. The day before she died, she sent him an e-mail asking him to order some clothes and shoes from a trendy store. In the e-mail she told her husband she was “exhausted and couldn’t wait to get home and that she loved me,” Sean Hines said. “She was having a difficult time being in Iraq with all the devastation,” said her mother, Beverly Coleman of Sacramento, California. “I would just tell her to take it one day at a time.” On the same day that Coleman learned of her daughter’s death, received a package from Hines containing a purse stuffed with beads, money and a note that said “I love you, Mommy.”
Jackie L. Larsen loved animals, all animals, and had a particularly strong love for coffee. “It was ‘guesstimated’ that the coffee mug she so lovingly carried held approximately 32 oz.,” said colleague Tech. Sgt. Rosalyn Anderson. Larsen, 37, of Tacoma, Washington, died of natural causes July 17 at Balad Air Base. She was assigned to Beale Air Force Base. Larsen, a paralegal and an 18-year Air Force veteran, was the 9th Reconnaissance Wing Legal Office’s superintendent, based at Beale Air Force Base. As the legal office superintendent, Larsen managed the general law and military justice divisions, overseeing all aspects of enlisted training in the law center. She also was the principal adviser to the Staff Judge Advocate regarding enlisted matters. “Many people knew Tech. Sgt. Jackie Larsen as a military professional. They would say that she was dedicated, a real ‘tough cookie’ and a ‘no nonsense’ kind of NCO,” said Anderson. But she also giggled when she was in a silly mood, was protective of her family and had a love of deep sea diving, she said. She is survived by her husband, Scott.
Even in a combat zone, Elizabeth N. Jacobson kept her steady humor. “The room service sucks,” she wrote. Asked about her biggest obstacles, she made a short list: sand, guys, waking up, taking a shower when the water is boiling. “She just made everything fun,” said Adam Steinhoff, a former boyfriend. “She was always laughing.” Jacobson, 21, of Riviera Beach, Florida, was killed Sept. 28 by a roadside bomb outside Safwan. She graduated from an adult-education school in Madera, California, and was assigned to Goodfellow Air Force Base. She belonged to the Fresno Playhouse and won a writing contest on Poetry.com before enlisting. She planned to travel the United States with her sisters before returning to Florida, where she hoped for a career in law enforcement. In an e-mail to friends and family, she wrote, “I want to die happy, and have a productive life. I hope nobody wishes I was never born. I hope my kids never tell me they wish I were like their friend’s mom. I hope that I make money, but don’t end up a workaholic or stuck up.” She is survived by her parents, David Jacobson and Marianne Earheart.
Before she went to Iraq, Shawna Morrison was understandably worried. Not necessarily about roadside bombs, the insurgency, the heat or the language barrier – but spiders. Her father, Rick Morrison, said Shawna was most concerned about rumors of creepycrawlies the size of paper plates that could jump 6 feet. “We spent many hours looking for spider spray,” he said. “And she never saw one.” Rick Morrison said his daughter was a bundle of energy. “She was super. She had a bubbly personality,” he said. “She was a person you always wanted to be around. She wore her heart on her sleeve.” Shawna Morrison, 26, of Paris. Illinois, died Sept. 5 when mortar rounds struck her base on the western outskirts of Baghdad. Morrison attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and worked two jobs, one as a waitress and the other as a bartender, to put herself through school. “She’s always been very independent,” said her father. “She never asked us for a dime from day one when she moved out.” Morrison also is survived by her mother, Cindy Morrison.
Isela Rubalcava was known as a joyful person – the kind of woman who could leave boot camp smiling. “She achieved everything she set her heart on,” said grandmother Margarita Rubalcava. Rubalcava, of El Paso, Texas, and stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington, was killed May 8 in Mosul when a mortar round hit near her. She would have been 26 three days later. She attended the University of Texas at El Paso and Sul Ross State University before joining the Army. “They took a piece of my heart,” Ramon Rubalcava said of his daughter. “I only hope this war ends soon, because I don’t wish this pain on anyone else.” Her cousin Hector Barragan said “she’s always been a happy person, always smiling. When she came back from boot camp, she was cheerful and told us about how great it was.” Rubalcava was happy again when Barragan last heard from her in an e-mail from Iraq – this time “because she was going to eventually come home.” Survivors include her mother, Maria Isela Rubalcava.
Laura Walker died when the Humvee she was in struck a land mine near Kandahar, Afghanistan. In a July 2005 e-mail to The News Tribune of Tacoma, Washington, Walker said engineers were working on the 75-mile highway between Kandahar and Tarin Kowt. Walker graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in May 2003 with a political science degree. She was sent to Iraq in February 2004 and one year later was assigned to Afghanistan, where she worked as a platoon leader. Her last assignment was that of a public affairs officer. She also wrote for the U.S. Department of Defense’s online newsletter, Defend America.
Originally published May 14, 2009. Some content via the Associated Press.