Remembering Our Fallen

13 Jews Who Died Fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq

Fallen Comrades: Service members salute James Malachowski, who was killed March 20, 2011, by an improvised explosive device in Marjah, Afghanistan. He was 25.
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Fallen Comrades: Service members salute James Malachowski, who was killed March 20, 2011, by an improvised explosive device in Marjah, Afghanistan. He was 25.

By Maia Efrem, Blair Thornburgh, Andrea Palatnik and Seth Berkman

Published September 09, 2012, issue of September 14, 2012.
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Spec. Douglas J. Green

‘He made them all laugh”

Growing up in Sterling, Va., Douglas Green played football and performed in school productions, even playing the “bad guy” in “Footloose.” His mother, Suni Erlanger, told The Washington Post that when his family tried to persuade Green not to enlist in the Army, it was for naught. “He loved his country, and nothing was going to stop him,” she said. After enlisting in 2007, Green served a tour in Iraq and was then deployed to Afghanistan.

Erlanger told the Post that her son’s enlistment was to be up before the end of 2011, when he had plans to marry and to pursue a college degree and a career in the Secret Service or the CIA.

Even in hard and dangerous times for Green and his unit in Afghanistan, Erlanger said, “he made them all laugh.” He also assured his fellow soldiers “that everything’s going to be okay.”

“Everybody loved Doug,” his mother said. “Everybody loved him.”

Douglas Green was killed on August 28, 2011, in Afghanistan when insurgents attacked his unit using a makeshift bomb and small arms fire. He was 23 years old.


Pfc. Steven F. Shapiro

A new father

Steven Shapiro first met Adela Veguilla in the summer of 2003, but they didn’t connect seriously until six years later, for a date in Japantown, in San Francisco. “A couple of weeks into our relationship, I knew he was the one. Steve was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with,” his wife recalled in her post on the American Widow Project, a forum for military widows.

After they became an official couple, Shapiro, who was originally from Hidden Valley Lake, Calif., met Veguilla’s parents. Shapiro soon became close with her father, who would often discuss the benefits of a military career. His girlfriend’s father eventually inspired him to enlist in the U.S. Army, even going with him to the recruitment office.

On December 31, 2009, after seven months together, Shapiro and Veguilla married. He left for four months of basic training the following March. The couple had not even reached their one-year anniversary when Shapiro received orders for deployment. On February 2, 2011, Shapiro was deployed to Iraq. The following day, his wife realized that she was pregnant with their first child.

On September 29, 2011, two days after Shapiro returned home on leave, his wife gave birth to their son, Micah. Shapiro was at her side the entire time. When it was time to go back to Iraq, “he kissed me and said, ‘Goodbye. I’ll be home before you know it.’ I told him I loved him and didn’t want to let go,” Veguilla-Shapiro said.

Steven Shapiro died October 21, 2011, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound while serving in Iraq. He was 29 years old.


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