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Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher March 20, 2020

Servicemen died in 2010, not ‘this week,’ and they were remembered

If Your Time is short

  • The 11 servicemen, not all Marines, died in 2010, not “this week.”

  • Each of their deaths was reported by news media at the time.

A social media post with enduring virality claims that 11 U.S. Marines "gave their lives this week" and they didn’t even get a mention in the media.

In full: "R.I.P. Justin Allen 23, Brett Linley 29, Matthew Weikert 29, Justus Bartett 27, Dave Santos 21, Jesse Reed 26, Matthew Johnson 21, Zachary Fisher 24, Brandon King 23, Christopher Goeke 23, and Sheldon Tate 27. All 11 were Marines that gave their lives this week for everyone in this country. There is no media for them, not even a mention of their names. Honor them by copying and posting this post. Praying for their family and loved ones."

The post, which is similar to others dating back to at least May 2017, was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

While the post might be well intentioned, it’s plain wrong. All those named in the post died in Operation Enduring Freedom operations in Afghanistan in July 2010 and their deaths got media coverage.

We’re not the first ones to note this. At least three fact-checks have debunked this claim.

Also, these service members were not all U.S. Marines.

We downloaded from the federal Defense Casualty Analysis System a list of the casualties in Operation Enduring Freedom, which was launched in Afghanistan in October 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Here from that list is the name, age and hometown of each man in the Facebook post:

Eight members of the U.S. Army: 

Justin Allen, 23, Coal Grove, Ohio

Zachary Fisher, 24, Ballwin, Mo. 

Christopher Goeke, 23, Apple Valley, Minn. 

Matthew Johnson, 21, Maplewood, Minn. 

Brandon King, 23, Tallahassee, Fla. 

Jesse Reed, 26, Orefield, Pa. 

Sheldon Tate, 27, Hinesville, Ga. 

Matthew Weikert 29, Jacksonville, Ill.

Two U.S. Marines: Justus Bartelt (last name misspelled in the post), 27, Polo, Ill.; and Dave Santos, 21, Rota, Mariana Islands of the Pacific.

The other serviceman, Brett Linley, 29, was from the United Kingdom, according to its Ministry of Defence.

The New York Times reported the deaths of seven of the men (Fisher, Goeke, Johnson, Reed, Santos, Tate and Weikert) on July 19, 2010. The BBC reported Linley’s death the same day. There were also timely local news reports about the deaths of Allen, Bartelt, King.

Our ruling

A Facebook post listing names said the names were of 11 Marines who "gave their lives this week for everyone in this country" and "there is no media for them, not even a mention of their names."

The men listed actually include 10 American servicemen — two Marines and eight from the Army — as well as one from the United Kingdom. They all died in combat operations in Afghanistan in July 2010. All of their deaths were reported by news media. 

We rate the post False.

Our Sources

Facebook, post, Feb. 2, 2020

Facebook, post, May 2, 2017

Defense Casualty Analysis System, "U.S. Military Casualties - Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) Names of Fallen," March 19, 2020)

BBC, "Soldier killed in Afghanistan named by MoD," July 19, 2010

New York Times, "Names of the Dead," July 19, 2010

Check Your Fact, "Fact Check: Viral Image Claims 11 Us Marines Died ‘this Week,’" Jan. 30, 2020

Snopes, "Did Eleven U.S. Marines Give Their Lives This Week?" Aug. 3, 2018

Marine Corps Times, "Fact check: No Marines have died in Afghanistan this year," May 8, 2017, "Staff Sergeant Brett George Linley killed in Afghanistan," July 19, 2010

Ogle County News, "Polo Marine killed in Afghanistan," accessed March 19, 2020

The Daily Independent, "Coal Grove honors soldier killed in Afghanistan," Jul 28, 2010

WCTV, "Body of Local Hero Killed In Afghanistan To Return Home-Update," July 23, 2010

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More by Tom Kertscher

Servicemen died in 2010, not ‘this week,’ and they were remembered

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