American soldiers face not only guns and bombs when they go to the battlefield, but also disease, harsh weather, toxic fumes and a host of other hazards. other hazards. In Korea, American servicemen fought through freezing temperatures. In the Pacific theater during World War II and in Vietnam, malaria spread rapidly among the troops. Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan dealt with the effects of smoke from burn pits (for disposal of military waste), a practice now all but abandoned.
In the wars of the 18th and 19th centuries, such as the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, disease posed the greatest threat to soldiers outside the battlefield. Poor sanitation led to the spread of dysentery, smallpox and other communicable diseases. Far more soldiers succumbed to disease than to enemy-inflicted wounds. (Even though soldiers with a disease or injury did not die, they were kept away from the battlefield, reducing troop strength. These were the most devastating battles in recent history.)
Today, vaccines, better health practices, advanced medical procedures and the ability to quickly remove soldiers from the battlefield dramatically reduced non-combat deaths from disease and greatly improved the chances of surviving combat injury. In recent wars, non-combat injuries were often related to accidents, self-inflicted wounds, disease, or other injuries.
To determine the wars in which the most Americans died from causes unrelated to battle, 24/7 Wall St. looked at data from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense. These non-combat causes can include exposure, disease, infections, etc.
The majority of the numbers in this story come from the VA fact sheet, America’s Wars. The rest, including non-combat deaths during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, are estimates from military history sites. The Iraq War figures represent combined statistics from Operations Iraqi Freedom, New Dawn, and Inherent Resolve, and the Afghanistan War figures combine totals from Operations Enduring Freedom and Freedom’s Sentinel. Data on the number of soldiers who served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were not available. (Discover the deadliest battles in US history.)
Click here to see 12 wars where most Americans died outside of combat.