Three Marines who were wounded during the Fallujah offensive died later at U.S. hospitals in Germany and the United States, the Defense Department said Monday, raising the U.S. military death toll in Iraq for November to at least 101.
Since the initial U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the only other month in which U.S. deaths exceeded 100 was April, when insurgent violence flared and Marines fought fierce battles in Fallujah and Ramadi.
The Defense Department said two Marines died Saturday at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. Cpl. Joseph J. Heredia, 22, of Santa Maria, Calif., was wounded Nov. 10 in Fallujah, and Lance Cpl. Joseph T. Welke, 20, of Rapid City, S.D., was wounded there Friday, officials said.
Landstuhl is a hub for seriously wounded U.S. soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan, and officials last week said the flow of injured to the hospital jumped to about twice the normal rate after the battle for Fallujah began.
Lance Cpl. Michael A. Downey, 21, of Phoenix died Friday at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. He had been wounded Nov. 11 in Fallujah.
The official U.S. death toll for the Fallujah offensive, which began Nov. 7, has not been updated since Lt. Gen. John Sattler, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, said Thursday that it stood at 51. But the deaths announced Monday mean the toll has risen to at least 54.
The Marines have suffered most of the Fallujah battle casualties. An exact number is not available because the Marines usually do not specify the city in which a casualty happened.
Since Nov. 1, the Marines have had at least 69 deaths throughout Iraq, most of them in Fallujah. That is by far the deadliest month of the war for the Marines; their previous high was 52, also in April.
Of the 138,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, about 35,000 are Marines.