The death rate in Iraq this month among members of the National Guard and Reserve is the highest since January and one of the highest of the entire war, Pentagon figures show.
At least 21 part-time soldiers and Marines have died in May, although the number may be higher since the Pentagon has not yet identified most of the 14 U.S. troops who have died since Sunday.
As of May 20, the Pentagon had identified 16 Guard and Reserve members among the month’s dead.
The Marine Corps said four killed Monday were members of the 155th Brigade Combat Team, a Mississippi Army National Guard unit attached to the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force. Also, the Pennsylvania Army National Guard said one of its soldiers was killed Sunday in a suicide bombing.
The 21 deaths account for a little over one-third of the total of 58 U.S. troops who have died so far this month. That is about in line with the ratio of Guard and Reserve troops to regular active-duty troops deployed in Iraq — now about 40 percent Guard/Reserve and 60 percent regular troops.
In April, 11 members of the Guard and Reserve died in Iraq. In March, there were 13, and February’s total was 16. That means the May toll already is the highest since January, when there were 30 for the entire month. January was one of the bloodiest months of the war for U.S. forces, with a total of 107 deaths, including 30 Marines and one Navy corpsman who died in a single helicopter crash.
Prior to January, the highest monthly toll among Guard and Reserve members was 28 in November 2004, when many died in the assault on Fallujah and the total death toll for U.S. forces was 138.
Since the war began in March 2003, at least 163 members of the National Guard, plus 45 in the Army Reserve and 45 in the Marine Reserves had died in Iraq, according to an unofficial count as of Friday. The Pentagon does not release an official death toll for the Guard and Reserve.