U.S. Pushes Deeper Into Iraq; Chopper Dead Number Revised to 12
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 21, 2003 (Editor's note: DoD released the names of the American casualties at 5 p.m. March 21.)
The death toll in the crash of a Marine CH-46 helicopter March 20 was reduced overnight to 12 by U.S. Central Command officials.
Four American and eight British Marines died in the crash in northern Kuwait. Initial reports said 16 had died.
The Marines killed were Maj. Jay Thomas Aubin, 36, of Waterville, Maine; Capt. Ryan Anthony Beaupre, 30, of Bloomington, Ill.; Cpl. Brian Matthew Kennedy, 25, of Houston; and Staff Sgt. Kendall Damon Watersbey, 29, of Baltimore.
DoD officials confirmed media reports that a Marine with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force was killed as his unit entered southern Iraq.
Coalition forces are securing the oil fields in southern Iraq, while other troops are proceeding toward Baghdad, according to media reporters embedded with U.S. and British forces.
DoD officials said the coalition is following the operations plan generated at Central Command.
British officials said the coalition has taken the port of Umm Qasr and Basra, Iraq's second largest city. There was some resistance.
DoD officials said Marine and Army forces preceded entry into Iraq with artillery fire and close-air support. They would not characterize the resistance encountered nor would anyone comment on the number of Iraqi prisoners.
Air operations March 20 began with strikes in and around Baghdad. In addition to cruise missiles, F-117 Nighthawks participated in missions over Iraq on the first night of the conflict. Air Force officials confirmed that B-2 Spirit bombers are now operational at a forward- deployed location.