Wednesday, May 11, 2011

PolitiFact: Doris Kearns Goodwin incorrect on combat deaths in Eisenhower's administration

By Louis Jacobson, St. Petersburg Times staff writer
In Print: Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The statement
During the Eisenhower Administration, "not a single soldier … died in combat."
Doris Kearns Goodwin, historian, on NBC's Meet the Press

The ruling

We knew that Goodwin's claim had problems when we checked the starting and ending dates of the Korean War. It was an active conflict through the signing of a truce on July 26, 1953. Since Eisenhower was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 1953, he served as commander-in-chief for the final six months of the war. His presidency ended Jan. 20, 1961.

How many casualties were there during those six months? We didn't find any official government data separated by year, but the Korean War Project has a website that offers day-by-day casualty figures. We looked at the first six months of Eisenhower's presidency and found 3,406 casualties.

Casualties, however, include noncombat deaths and nonmortal wounds, so we took casualty ratios for the entire Korean War and determined that combat deaths accounted for 24 percent of casualties. Multiplying this percentage by the number of casualties produces roughly 800 combat deaths during Eisenhower's six months in charge. (The total for the war was almost 34,000.)
The figure we came up with isn't exact, but it seems combat deaths during that period numbered in the hundreds.

Read the rest of the story here.

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