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Operation Desert Storm Victory Parade

Updated on September 4, 2016
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A flight of F-4 Phantom IIs over the Washington Mall during the Desert Storm Victory Parade, June 1991.An E-2C Hawkeye over the Washington Mall during the Desert Storm Victory Parade, June 1991.Naval aircraft flying over the Washington Mall during the Desert Storm Victory Parade, June 1991.A C-9 over the Washington Mall during the Desert Storm Victory Parade, June 1991.Two EA-6 Prowlers over the Washington Mall during the Desert Storm Victory Parade, June 1991.Two USMC AV-8B Harrier IIs over the Washington Mall during the Desert Storm Victory Parade, June 1991.An F-16 element over the Washington Mall during the Desert Storm Victory Parade, June 1991.A US Navy P-3 Orion over the Washington Mall during the Desert Storm Victory Parade, June 1991.A flight of USAF F-16s over the Washington Mall during the Desert Storm Victory Parade, June 1991.A flight of F-15 Eagles over the Washington Mall.  F-15s accounted for all but 2 of the fixed wing air-air kills during Operation Desert Storm.  No F-15s were lost to enemy aircraft. An element of USAF F-117 Nighthawks of the Washington Mall.  F-117s flew over the most heavily defended Iraqi airspace without loss.A pair of F/A-18 Hornets.  F/A-18s shot down two MiG-21s.  The first loss in Operation Desert Storm was an F/A-18 shot down by an Iraqi MiG-25.   A KC-130 aerial tanker over the Washington Mall, June 1991.A C-130 over the Washington Mall, June 1991.A C-141 over the Washington Mall, June 1991.A C-17 Globemaster III over the Washington Mall, June 1991.A KC-10 over the Washington Mall, June 1991.A B-52 Stratofortress over the Washington Mall.  B-52s flew 1,624 Desert Storm sorties and dropped 72,000 bombs, 29% of all U.S. bombs dropped. A USAF C-135 over the Washington Mall, June 1991.A flight of F-111s over the Washington Mall, 1991.
A flight of F-4 Phantom IIs over the Washington Mall during the Desert Storm Victory Parade, June 1991.
A flight of F-4 Phantom IIs over the Washington Mall during the Desert Storm Victory Parade, June 1991. | Source
An E-2C Hawkeye over the Washington Mall during the Desert Storm Victory Parade, June 1991.
An E-2C Hawkeye over the Washington Mall during the Desert Storm Victory Parade, June 1991. | Source
Naval aircraft flying over the Washington Mall during the Desert Storm Victory Parade, June 1991.
Naval aircraft flying over the Washington Mall during the Desert Storm Victory Parade, June 1991. | Source
A C-9 over the Washington Mall during the Desert Storm Victory Parade, June 1991.
A C-9 over the Washington Mall during the Desert Storm Victory Parade, June 1991. | Source
Two EA-6 Prowlers over the Washington Mall during the Desert Storm Victory Parade, June 1991.
Two EA-6 Prowlers over the Washington Mall during the Desert Storm Victory Parade, June 1991. | Source
Two USMC AV-8B Harrier IIs over the Washington Mall during the Desert Storm Victory Parade, June 1991.
Two USMC AV-8B Harrier IIs over the Washington Mall during the Desert Storm Victory Parade, June 1991. | Source
An F-16 element over the Washington Mall during the Desert Storm Victory Parade, June 1991.
An F-16 element over the Washington Mall during the Desert Storm Victory Parade, June 1991. | Source
A US Navy P-3 Orion over the Washington Mall during the Desert Storm Victory Parade, June 1991.
A US Navy P-3 Orion over the Washington Mall during the Desert Storm Victory Parade, June 1991. | Source
A flight of USAF F-16s over the Washington Mall during the Desert Storm Victory Parade, June 1991.
A flight of USAF F-16s over the Washington Mall during the Desert Storm Victory Parade, June 1991. | Source
A flight of F-15 Eagles over the Washington Mall.  F-15s accounted for all but 2 of the fixed wing air-air kills during Operation Desert Storm.  No F-15s were lost to enemy aircraft.
A flight of F-15 Eagles over the Washington Mall. F-15s accounted for all but 2 of the fixed wing air-air kills during Operation Desert Storm. No F-15s were lost to enemy aircraft. | Source
An element of USAF F-117 Nighthawks of the Washington Mall.  F-117s flew over the most heavily defended Iraqi airspace without loss.
An element of USAF F-117 Nighthawks of the Washington Mall. F-117s flew over the most heavily defended Iraqi airspace without loss. | Source
A pair of F/A-18 Hornets.  F/A-18s shot down two MiG-21s.  The first loss in Operation Desert Storm was an F/A-18 shot down by an Iraqi MiG-25.
A pair of F/A-18 Hornets. F/A-18s shot down two MiG-21s. The first loss in Operation Desert Storm was an F/A-18 shot down by an Iraqi MiG-25. | Source
A KC-130 aerial tanker over the Washington Mall, June 1991.
A KC-130 aerial tanker over the Washington Mall, June 1991. | Source
A C-130 over the Washington Mall, June 1991.
A C-130 over the Washington Mall, June 1991. | Source
A C-141 over the Washington Mall, June 1991.
A C-141 over the Washington Mall, June 1991. | Source
A C-17 Globemaster III over the Washington Mall, June 1991.
A C-17 Globemaster III over the Washington Mall, June 1991. | Source
A KC-10 over the Washington Mall, June 1991.
A KC-10 over the Washington Mall, June 1991. | Source
A B-52 Stratofortress over the Washington Mall.  B-52s flew 1,624 Desert Storm sorties and dropped 72,000 bombs, 29% of all U.S. bombs dropped.
A B-52 Stratofortress over the Washington Mall. B-52s flew 1,624 Desert Storm sorties and dropped 72,000 bombs, 29% of all U.S. bombs dropped. | Source
A USAF C-135 over the Washington Mall, June 1991.
A USAF C-135 over the Washington Mall, June 1991. | Source
A flight of F-111s over the Washington Mall, 1991.
A flight of F-111s over the Washington Mall, 1991. | Source

Background

Operation Desert Storm ended in a decisive victory for the United States and its coalition partners. Iraq had the 4th largest military in the world. The Iraqi military had modern equipment and Iraqi forces had years of combat experience from fighting Iran. Iraq also had a stockpile of chemical weapons. The magnitude of the U.S. effort was such that Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney authorized the National Defense Service Medal for all those who served in the military during the time.

The Parade

In June 1991 there was a World War II style victory parade on the Washington Mall. The late General Norman H. Schwarzkopf, who commanded the coalition forces, led the parade. Troop formations marched and ground equipment rolled down Constitution Avenue. Aircraft that flew Desert Storm missions flew overhead. A small group of anti-war protestors attempted to disrupt the parade. Spectators lined the parade route. It was difficult to get a good look at the troops and ground equipment for those who failed to come early. Spectators had an excellent view of the aircraft from almost any vantage point. There was a USAF F-15 tail number AF85-114, a USAF F-16 tail number AF79-317, and a USMC AV-8B Harrier, Bu. Number 162943 on static display near the Lincoln Memorial. The pilot’s name on the F-15 was Captain Cesar Rodriguez. The markings showed the MiG-23 and MiG-29 Captain Rodriguez shot down during Operation Desert Storm.[i]


[i] Lt. Colonel Cesar Antonio “Rico” Rodriguez shot down a MiG-29 over Serbia during the Kosovo campaign, Operation Allied Force. Col. Rodriguez was the director of operations for the 332nd AEW during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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A USMC AV-8B Harrier II, Bu. No. 162943, on display at the Washington Mall, June 1991.An F-15 Eagle, AF85-114, on display at the Washington Mall, June 1991.Kill markings of the F-15 AF85-114.  Washington Mall, June 1991.An F-16 Fighting Falcon, AF79-317, in front of the Lincoln Memorial, June 1991.
A USMC AV-8B Harrier II, Bu. No. 162943, on display at the Washington Mall, June 1991.
A USMC AV-8B Harrier II, Bu. No. 162943, on display at the Washington Mall, June 1991. | Source
An F-15 Eagle, AF85-114, on display at the Washington Mall, June 1991.
An F-15 Eagle, AF85-114, on display at the Washington Mall, June 1991. | Source
Kill markings of the F-15 AF85-114.  Washington Mall, June 1991.
Kill markings of the F-15 AF85-114. Washington Mall, June 1991. | Source
An F-16 Fighting Falcon, AF79-317, in front of the Lincoln Memorial, June 1991.
An F-16 Fighting Falcon, AF79-317, in front of the Lincoln Memorial, June 1991. | Source

The Proving Ground

To many people Desert Storm confirmed many claims and exploded some myths. At the start of Operation Desert Shield Saddam Hussein is quoted as stating; “The United States depends on air power and air power has never been decisive in the history of wars.” While some still believe this to others Desert Storm made Saddam Hussein’s statement laughable. Desert Storm disproved a number of objections to having women in combat roles. Among these myths was the belief women casualties would be more disturbing than men casualties to the American populace. The professional performance of women in Operation Desert Storm gave momentum for women serving in more roles in the United States and armed forces throughout the world.

The F-117 Nighthawk proved stealth technology. The F-117 was the only major combat aircraft type that flew in Desert Storm without losses.[i] In air-air combat the F-15 Eagles shot down 34 fixed wing aircraft, including 5 MiG-29s, without a loss to enemy aircraft. They also shot down 3 helicopters. In contrast the F/A-18s shot down two MiG-21s and one F/A-18 fell to an enemy fighter. Unknown at the time an Iraqi fighter also shot down a Royal Air Force Tornado. Many called the A-10 a SLAT (Slow Low Aerial Target). The A-10 proved it could survive over a battlefield where the enemy had sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons. The USAF lost 3 A-10s to enemy action. The Patriot missile system proved the viability of shooting down a missile with a missile. The effectiveness of the Patriot against the SCUD missiles was exaggerated. The F-111 had a troubled history. It was supposed to be a joint service aircraft but the U.S. Navy withdrew from the program. When the USAF deployed it to Vietnam in 1968 it soon lost two F-111s to mechanical failures. The Air Force withdrew the aircraft from Vietnam and didn’t reintroduce it until 1972. F-111s flew in Operation El Dorado Canyon. Anti-aircraft shot one down and there were questions if its use was to make El Dorado Canyon a joint service operation rather than military necessity. Operation Desert Storm vindicated the F-111. During Operation Desert Storm F-111s destroyed 949 armored vehicles, 252 artillery pieces, 243 aircraft shelters, 4 aircraft on the ground, two ships, and numerous other targets. On the other side of the ledger Operation Desert Storm added to the B-1B Lancer controversy. President Jimmy Carter killed the B-1 program. President Ronald Reagan resurrected the program. The B-1B wasn’t used in Operation Desert Storm and its detractors pointed to this as proof the B-1B was a useless aircraft.

[i] No B-52s were lost to enemy action. An accident claimed a B-52.

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A Patriot missile system on the Washington, DC Mall, May 1992.A B-1B Lancer on display at Andrews AFB.
A Patriot missile system on the Washington, DC Mall, May 1992.
A Patriot missile system on the Washington, DC Mall, May 1992. | Source
A B-1B Lancer on display at Andrews AFB.
A B-1B Lancer on display at Andrews AFB. | Source

In Retrospect

While the victory parade marked the end of Operation Desert Storm it was not the end of U.S. military involvement with Iraq. Desert Storm was the beginning. Except for a respite from 2012 – August 2014 the U.S. military has been carrying out operations, of various intensity, in Iraq ever since. Arguably it was the respite that enabled terrorist forces to gain control over much of Iraq. The B-1B flew its first combat missions over Iraq during Operation Desert Fox. The Patriot missile system which many proclaimed a great success in Operation Desert Storm shot down an RAF Tornado and a U.S. Navy F/A-18 during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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    • Robert Sacchi profile image
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      Robert Sacchi 7 months ago

      Actually the recession took place during the time of Operation Desert Shield/Storm. While there were other factors part of the economic problem was people were home watching television to see what was happening instead of going out and buying stuff. That's not good for our consumer driven economy. It was the first conflict with a 24 hour news cycle.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 7 months ago from North Texas

      Gosh, 1991 was so long ago I really don't remember much other than that we were in a recession as is so often the case when we have a Republican president. I never saw, or even heard about this parade. Guess there was just too much going on for me to keep up with the news. Appreciate your writing about it.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image
      Author

      Robert Sacchi 16 months ago

      Yes, it was a familiar pattern. A country withdraws its professional army and leaves the locals to fend for themselves. Vietnam, Afghanistan (with the Russians), Lebanon (a couple of times), it always ends badly.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 16 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Good information about this part of the war in Iraq which continues to this day. When our forces were pulled out...against our military commander's advice...the terrorists gained ground. Now we are back in it fighting an uphill battle once again as are those in Iraq who do not wish the terrorists to win. Sad situation.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image
      Author

      Robert Sacchi 2 years ago

      Thank you. That is good information.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      I wasn't in the Military then (though I am ex Army) but working with a relief agency. We knew a lot of the soldiers in 'operation provide comfort' (the name given to the people responsible for keeping Saddam in check and providing special training to the peshmerga) and they were just the people you wanted with you in a difficult situation.

      There were four nations involved. America, Britain, France and Turkey but the majority were American

      Great hub

      Lawrence

    • Robert Sacchi profile image
      Author

      Robert Sacchi 2 years ago

      Yes, you and your mates did a great job. Thank you.

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      I spent three years in Iraq after Desert storm helping the Kurds rebuild their homes and lives. They were three incredible years where we saw so much and received so much from the Iraqi people, this hub brought some of that back.

      One of the keys to the battle wasn't just the equipment but the level of training that the military had. Yes Iraq had a big Army but it was a conscript one. The coalition Army was half the size but the level of training and knowing how to use their equipment made a significant difference.

      Great hub

      Lawrence