The Los Angeles Times has created a database of Californians killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, providing statistical and personal profiles of each of the nearly 500 fallen soldiers from the Golden State.
On the statistical side, the median age of Californians who died in the two wars so far is 23, the newspaper found. 402 were below age 30, and 15 of the slain aged over 40. More than 200 were married when they were killed, and at least 38 were engaged, the paper finds. More than 160 were parents, leaving behind over 300 children. Interestingly, over 10% of those killed were immigrants to the United States, and "dozens more" were the children of immigrants.
The Times augments its statistical data with personal profiles of the fallen, including posthumous quotes from the soldiers and interviews with family members.
"I'm ready to fight for my country," said Marine Lance Cpl. Derek L. Gardner before he was deployed. The 20-year-old from San Juan Capistrano died a car bomb blast in September 2004 near Falluja. Victor H. Toledo-Pulido, was smuggled into California from Mexico at age 7, and was killed in an IED blast outside Baghdad in May 2007 at age 22. "He was Mexican, but he thought like an American. And he gave his life for this country," said his mother, Maria Gaspar.
Friday's article in the Times touches on the stories of several other Californians, including Bunny Long, 22, son of Cambodian immigrants, a Marine lance corporal killed by a suicide car bomber in Falluja in March 2006, and Marine Staff Sgt. Allan K. Walker, 28, of Lancaster, who was killed in April 2004 when his Humvee convoy was attacked in Iraq's Anbar province.
Buchanan High School in the Central Valley town of Clovis lost the most soldiers, the paper writes. All six of the slain Buchanan High grads will be included in the database.
4079 American soldiers have died in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, and 505 have perished in Afghanistan since that war began in October 2001, according to icasualties.org. By the LAT figures, around ten percent of Americans killed in the two wars would have come from California.
California makes up about 12 percent of the total population of the United States, according to recent estimates.