Fact Check: The Media Did NOT Fail To Report The Deaths of 11 Marines In Afghanistan This Week

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: The Media Did NOT Fail To Report The Deaths of 11 Marines In Afghanistan This Week Died in 2010

Did the media fail to report the deaths of 11 Marines in Afghanistan this week? No, that's not true: The deaths referred to all occurred in 2010. Only two were Marines. News media reported on each of the deaths at the time. They did all happen in a single week: July 13-18, 2010.

The story reappeared in a post (archived here) on Facebook on August 19, 2020, more than ten years after the deaths occurred. It opened:

**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....Are all Marines that gave their lives this week for you. There is no media for them... not even a mention of their names. Honor THEM by posting this. I did, will you?
Thank you for your service!

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Sep 2 13:26:59 2020 UTC)

This September 3, 2020 fact check was Updated on January 4, 2024 to address new versions of this copy-paste text which surfaced in late December 2023 associating these same names with a November 29, 2023 Osprey crash off the coast of Japan. The update, and the names of the eight airmen who died in the Osprey crash can be found at the end of this article. The following names, with clarifications, appeared in the original 2010 post which contained inaccuracies.

Army 1st Lt. Christopher S. Goeke, Staff Sgt. Sheldon L. Tate and Staff Sgt. Christopher T. Stout, (who was not listed in Facebook post) were together when they were killed in a rocket propelled grenade attack in Kandahar City July 13, 2010.

Army Spc. Jesse D. Reed, Spc. Chase B. Stanley, Spc. Matthew J. Johnson and Sgt. Zachary M. Fisher were together when they were killed by an IED in the Zabul Province of Afghanistan July 14, 2010.

Despite what the Facebook post says, there are only two Marines on the list, Marine Staff. Sgt. Justus S. Bartelt, whose name was misspelled Bartett, and Marine Cpl. Dave M. Santos, both killed July 16, 2010 Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Army Staff Sgt. Matthew W. Weikert died in an IED attack near Orgun, Afghanistan July 17, 2010.

SSgt Brett Linley of the British Army's Royal Logistics Corps, killed while clearing explosives July 17, 2010 in Nahr-e Saraj, Afghanistan.

Army Sgt. Justin Allen was killed July 18, 2010 in a firefight in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.

AfghTransfer.jpgA U.S. Army carry team transfers the remains of Army Sgt. Justin B. Allen, of Coal Grove, Ohio, at Dover Air Force Base, Del., July 20.
Sgt. Allen was assigned to 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. (U.S. Air Force photo/Roland Balik)

In the following entries, the name of each serviceman is hyperlinked and will open the Military Times "Honor the Fallen" page dedicated to each individual. Linked below that are examples of additional news media reports.


Army Sgt. Justin B. Allen age 23, of Coal Grove, Ohio
1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment
Died July 18, 2010 in Zhari, Afghanistan

Coal Grove honors soldier killed in Afghanistan (archived here)


SSgt Brett Linley age 29, of Birmingham, UK
United Kingdom's Royal Logistics Corps
Died July 17, 2010 in Nahr-e-Saraj, Afghanistan

Bomb disposal hero Brett Linley killed in Afghanistan after defusing 100 bombs in 5 months (archived here)
Bomb disposal expert who saved hundreds of lives killed in Afghanistan (archived here)
Queen presents posthumous George Medal for Brett Linley (archived here)


Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Weikert age 29, of Jacksonville, Illinois
1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division
Died July 17, 2010 at Forward Operating Base Orgun-E, Afghanistan
Land mine kills 101st Soldier in Paktika, Afghanistan (archived here)
Jacksonville soldier killed in Afghanistan (archived here)

01JustusBartelt.jpgMarine Staff. Sgt. Justus S. Bartelt age 27, of Polo, Illinois
Regimental Combat Team 2, 1st Marine Division Forward, I Marine Expeditionary Force Forward
Died July 16, 2010 Helmand Province, Afghanistan

Polo Marine killed in Afghanistan (archived here)
Memorial Facebook Page (archived here)


Marine Cpl. Dave M. Santos age 21, of Rota, Marianas Islands of the Pacific
2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force
Died July 16, 2010 Helmand province, Afghanistan

Honor The Fallen (archived here)
5-year sentence for killer of Rota Marine (archived here)

01JesseReed.jpgArmy Spc. Jesse Reed, age 26, of Orefield, Pennsylvania
27th Engineer Battalion (Combat Airborne), 20th Engineer Brigade (Combat)
Died July 14, 2010 at Forward Operating Base Lagman, Afghanistan

Whitehall man killed in Afghanistan (archived here)
Services for Jesse Reed, Whitehall soldier killed in Afghanistan, will be Friday (archived here)


Army Sgt. Chase B. Stanley, age 21, of Napa, California
27th Engineer Battalion (Combat Airborne), 20th Engineer Brigade (Combat)
Died July 14, 2010 at Forward Operating Base Lagman, Afghanistan

Army Specialist Chase Stanley, 21, Napa (archived here)
One year later, soldier's family continues to mourn his death (archived here)
Family, friends mourn loss of Napa soldier (archived here)

01MatthewJohnson.jpgArmy Spc. Matthew Johnson age 21, of Maplewood, Minnesota
27th Engineer Battalion (Combat Airborne), 20th Engineer Brigade (Combat)
Died July 14, 2010 at Forward Operating Base Lagman, Afghanistan

Army Spc. Matthew Johnson: He made his family proud (archived here)
Spc. Matthew J. Johnson (archived here)


Army Sgt. Zachary M. Fisher age 24, of Ballwin Missouri
27th Engineer Battalion (Combat Airborne), 20th Engineer Brigade (Combat)
Died July 14, 2010 at Forward Operating Base Lagman, Afghanistan

Soldier from Ballwin dies in Afghanistan (archived here)
Funeral set for Ballwin soldier killed in Afghanistan (archived here)

01BrandonKing.jpgArmy Pfc. Brandon M. King age 23, of Tallahassee, Florida
1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division
Died July 14, 2010 at Combat Outpost Nolen, Afghanistan

101st Airborne Soldier killed in action (archived here)
Family continues legacy of local fallen soldier (archived here)


Army 1st Lt. Christopher S. Goeke age 23, of Apple Valley Minnesota
1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division
Died July 13, 2010 in Kandahar City, Afghanistan

At the time of his death, Christopher Goeke's family requested privacy from the press.
MN School Remembers Soldier Killed In Afghanistan (archived here)


Army Staff Sgt. Sheldon L. Tate age 27, of Hinesville, Georgia
782nd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division
Died July 13, 2010 in Kandahar City, Afghanistan

Staff Sgt. Sheldon L. Tate (archived here)
Mr. Sheldon L. Tate (archived here)

Army Staff Sgt. Christopher T. Stout was also killed on July 13, 2010 in this attack.

When this post resurfaces it is almost always framed to shame people for not caring, for being distracted by some current event or celebrity in the news. In September of 2010, the earliest edition of the post opened with, "Lindsay Lohan, 24, is all over the news because she is a celebrity drug addict" and referred to the deaths two months earlier.

The next year's version of the post opened with, "ENGLAND 2011... Everyone knows Amy Winehouse died but do you know...." and finished again with "There is no media for them."

One particularly harsh version from November of 2016 said, "Since the media would rather incite riots, I will do my best to Honor those Brave Heroes who died for your sorry asses!"

Subsequent versions have used Charlie Sheen, Whitney Houston, Kim Kardashian, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Michael Brown, Stormy Daniels, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Trayvon Martin, Barack Obama and even the song "Baby It's Cold Outside" all have been brought into updated editions of the same old post while the original list of servicemen is used over and over as if it was still "last week."

Below is a collage that shows a sampling of posts from every year since 2010. A higher resolution copy will open in a new page.


Over the years, these posts have been almost exclusively text based, with variations in the formatting and a few emojis.

In December of 2018, the post made another round with bold patriotic graphics added. The text in these posts is not identical. This is the period when complaints about the song, "Baby It's Cold Outside," began, and appear in many of these.

This assortment of posts with pictures were all shared on Facebook between December 12- 19, 2018, still claiming everyone on the list died "last week" and "no media for them."


January 4, 2023 Update

In late December 2023 the 2010 copy/paste post resurfaced on Facebook, this time with scant revisions to connect the old text to a November 29, 2023 Air Force CV-22B Osprey crash off the coast of southern Japan.

One post (pictured below) posted on December 21, 2023 refers to the "Baby It's Cold Outside' song, an addition in the text which has circulated since at least 2018. The names of the servicemen listed are the same which have been circulated since 2010. A version posted on December 30, 2023 was changed to mention an Osprey crash. Text posted on December 31, 2023 includes the incorrect detail of the Osprey crash being in the month of December when it was in November.

(Image source: Lead Stories composite image of Facebook screenshots taken on Thu Jan 04 15:20:11 2024 UTC)

There has been ample news coverage about the crash and recovery efforts. All eight airmen on board the Osprey were killed. At the time of this writing, on January 4, 2024, the remains of seven have been recovered. Since December 6, 2023 the entire U.S. military fleet of Osprey has been grounded while an investigation into the safety of the aircraft is conducted. A December 6, 2023 update from the Air Force Special operations command contains photos and biographical information about each of the eight Airmen who were killed in the crash:

  • U.S. Air Force Maj. Jeffrey "Jeff" T. Hoernemann

  • U.S. Air Force Maj. Eric "Doc" V. Spendlove

  • U.S. Air Force Maj. Luke A. Unrath

  • U.S. Air Force Maj. Terrell "Terry" K. Brayman

  • U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Zachary E. Lavoy

  • U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jake M. Turnage

  • U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Brian "Kody" Johnson

  • U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jacob "Jake" M. Galliher

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  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


Read more about or contact Sarah Thompson

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