Most combat deaths are front line enlisted men. Occasionally a highly ranked officer is killed. Col. William Wood, commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry Regiment is the highest ranked officer killed in action during the Iraq War.
There have been a few notable deaths throughout history. Roman emperor Valens was killed at the battle of Adrianople (August 8, 378) in modern day Turkey by the Goths. British Admiral Horatio Nelson was the head of the British Navy and probably the most influential Naval leader of all time. He was killed in the battle of Trafalger in 1805. Admiral Yamamoto, the head of the Japanese Navy, was killed when his plane was shot down in the south pacific during WWII.
Notable U.S. Combat Fatalities:
Col. Davy Crockett was killed at the Alamo. He was a former congressman and famous frontier hunter and Indian fighter.
General George Custer was killed along with all of his men at the battle of the Little Big Horn in Dakota Territory in 1876.
Three Union Generals, Major-General John F. Reynolds, Brig.-General Stephen W. Weed, and Brevet Major-General S. K. Zook were all killed at the battle of Gettysburg.
Admiral Isaac Kidd was killed aboard the U.S.S. Arizona during the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.
General Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr was killed during the closing days of the Battle of Okinowa by enemy artillery fire.
Major General Maurice Rose was killed in Germany during WWII. He was the highest ranked Jewish officer in U.S. history, and his 3rd armored Division was the first U.S. division to cross the Siegfried line into Germany.
General Keith Lincoln Ware was the Commanding General of the 1st Infantry Division. He was killed in a helicopter crash near the Cambodian border during the Vietnam War.