The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

An iconic photo of the First Gulf War

It has been 26 years since the end of Gulf War 1, The event that changed my life forever, it is an event that I have called "before the Storm" and "After the Storm".  My life and those like mine are forever impacted by that war.  That being said, I would do it all over again in a new york minute.  I remembered a photo that came across the wire and you know if you see a photo and it sears it into your soul..well this one was one of the ones for me.
This photo relates to the 24th Infantry Division, where a few Bradleys were hit by tank fire, this photo shows the price of war and it was a personal meaning for me.  I lost a friend of mine we called him "woody", that was his nickname, I had met him back in 1986 at "Planet Gerp" as we called our kasern in Germany.  The place is gone, after the Germans took the Kasern back after we pulled out of Germany in 1992.  We both went to different assignments during the normal Army PCS moves.  Well to make a long story short, I found out after the war ended that "Woody" died there, his Track was hit by a hellfire missile fired by an Apache Helicopter then I saw this picture and it epitomized the pain for me. 
     I will give a bit of background on this, After the war ended, a large percentage of the casualties we suffered were called "Blue on Blue", the lethality of the missiles and guns we used exceeded our ability to ID targets.  This was the first time the Army used Armor and Infantry in a large scale since WWII.  Our weapons have gotten more lethal but we still relied on the Mark I "eyeball" for Target Identification.  The technology for ID hasn't paced the range and accuracy of the stuff we used on the First Gulf war.  The U.S Army used the AIRLAND concept that we had developed to counter the Soviet Echelon formation and their doctrine and it worked very well, we crushed the 4th largest Army using this doctrine.  We called it "Shock and Awe" and it was warfare like nobody else had ever seen before.
    I will include some more pics and a link to the story and background.  Anybody that has walked the ramparts in defense of this country will have stories like this, it is a common thread of our experience and it is part of the bonds of the brotherhood, the shared sacrifice and loss that we have suffered. 

Here is the Link and the Story plus other pics of them meeting, follow the links

UNIONTOWN, Pa. – Twenty-four slow, burning years have passed since Sgt. Ken Kozakiewicz got wrecked to his soul.
Raw from a battle that ended moments before, dazed from the two missiles that smoked his Bradley Fighting Vehicle and weary from traversing an ungodly expanse of Iraq desert, Kozakiewicz did what any man would.
He read the name on the dead soldier’s identification card, looked away from the bloody body bag and wailed.
Kozakiewicz’s helpless, primal howl became the signature image of Operation Desert Storm. The picture, taken by David Turnley, showed war’s wicked truth and is considered one of military history’s most provocative photos.

Kozakiewicz, his broken left hand in a sling, had been guided into a medical evacuation helicopter after the Jalibah Airfield rout Feb. 27, 1991. The battle was among the final objectives of a dominant campaign to expel Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein’s army from neighboring Kuwait.

Kozakiewicz and Cpl. Mike Tsangarakis were about to be whisked away. Then a body bag was loaded onto the helicopter floor. Kozakiewicz demanded the dead soldier’s name.
A medic reluctantly handed Kozakiewicz the ID for 20-year-old Pvt. Andy Alaniz. In the center of the photo, Tsangarakis lifted his head bandages to glimpse the sack at his feet.
“I was just dumbfounded,” Kozakiewicz recalled Friday. “I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. He just got married. There’s no way.’
“Then it hit me like a ton of bricks.”

The vulnerable moment was seen around the world, running on the cover of Parade magazine. For 24 years, the photo has embarrassed Kozakiewicz but buoyed Alaniz’s high school sweetheart, who became a 19-year-old, pregnant widow.
“I don’t see my husband in a body bag,” Catherine Alaniz-Simonds said Friday. “I see a man crying. I see my husband surrounded by people that loved him. This picture shows the true meaning of war. Not everybody came home.”

Operation Desert Storm was a television show to most Americans.
For the first time, we watched a war as it happened. CNN showed airstrikes live and aired the latest news around the clock. We could see missiles fired from a safe distance, and a sensational fireworks display.
The United States dominated the Iraqi forces. Setbacks were rare. Even so, the Pentagon censored news reports that depicted death or military suffering.
Back home, few realized the cost of war until the haunting photo of Kozakiewicz, Tsangarakis and Alaniz’s body bag appeared on Parade magazine’s cover June 9, 1991.
“Some of us were taken, and some of us weren’t, but everybody rolled the dice where they were going to come out,” said Staff Sgt. Kary Varnell, part of the 24th Infantry Division that swept the Jalibah Airfield. “Were they going to come out alive or mangled?


  1. Yep, some gave all... Others never actually made it back for 'other' reasons.

  2. Yep, some gave all... Others never actually made it back for 'other' reasons.