WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney died in Iraq last week trying to defuse a roadside bomb while serving in the Army under an assumed name.
An Army spokesman said Cheney had been in the Army reserve for the past 45 years under the name "Benny Haven" and held the rank of Chief Warrant Officer when he died. He used a pseudonym so he would not seem to be exploiting his military valor for political gain, the spokesman said
Since the Iraq war began in 2003, Cheney-"Haven" had spent one month out of three with a bomb disposal unit in the Sunni triangle, according to the spokesman, Lt. Col. Mike Liberace.
"The Vice President suffered third degree burns over 80 percent of his body. His lower half was blown off from the pelvis down," Liberace said. "He was remarkably calm. As medics worked on him, he puffed a cigar and read the Wall Street Journal."
Cheney is only the latest of dozens of Bush administration officials who put on the uniform to fight and die in Iraq. Some 150 children of administration leaders have also perished in the line of duty.
Of these fatalities, 17 were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, 36 the Navy Cross or Distinguished Service Cross, and 51 the Silver Star.
"It can be said that their uncommon valor was a common virtue," said President Bush, whose two daughters, sister Doro, and brother Neil have died in Iraq.
Cheney-"Haven," who has already been awarded the Silver Star with three Oak Leaf Clusters for service in Vietnam and the Gulf, has been recommended to receive the Medal of Honor for sacrificing his life for his fellow soldiers last week.
"Greater love hath no man than to give up his life for his brother. His last words were 'Tell my wife and daughter I love them,'" Liberace said.