THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Service and sacrifice

27 Massachusetts service members have died in Afghanistan. Each of them has a story.

By James F. Smith
Globe Staff / May 31, 2010

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For Massachusetts, the long legacy of the Afghan war reaches back to Dec. 5, 2001, the day Army Sergeant First Class Daniel H. Petithory, a Green Beret, was killed near Kandahar by friendly fire.

Since that day, another 26 Massachusetts armed forces members have died in Afghanistan, where the United States went to war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban on Oct. 7, 2001, less than a month after the 9/11 terror attacks in New York and Washington. In February, the Afghanistan war overtook the Revolutionary War as the second-longest in US history (the Vietnam War lasted 10 1/2 years by most measures), and the war is again escalating.

The US military force in Afghanistan has now grown to 94,000, surpassing the 92,000 in Iraq as that war winds down. American military deaths in the Afghan war passed 1,000 last week, with 5,677 wounded, according to an Associated Press count.

The numbers alone are sobering.

But each face represents an individual story of service and sacrifice, starting with Petithory.

Petithory has always been more than a number.

He was 6 foot 4 inches and 220 pounds, and his brother, Michael, told CNN just days after his death that Daniel’s stature mirrored his personality: “He lived life large.’’

“Two years have lapsed since you had to leave us, and so much is different,’’ his sister, Nicole Petithory, wrote on his online memorial page. “You always were my hero . . . I just never got the chance to say it to you.’’

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