Vet­er­ans com­mem­o­rate those killed in Gulf War

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - tschuba@sun­times.com | @TomSchuba BY TOM SCHUBA, STAFF RE­PORTER

Thirty years af­ter Iraqi forces in­vaded neigh­bor­ing Kuwait and sparked the Per­sian Gulf War, a cou­ple dozen ser­vice­men roared up to Daley Plaza on mo­tor­cy­cles Sun­day morn­ing to com­mem­o­rate the an­niver­sary and the Amer­i­can lives lost in the con­flict.

For­mer Ald. James Bal­cer (11th), a Marine Corps vet­eran who fought in the Viet­nam War, led the group in com­mem­o­rat­ing the 382 troops lost in bat­tle, in­clud­ing 14 Illi­noisans whose names were later read aloud. Those lives, Bal­cer said, should “never, ever be for­got­ten.”

On Aug. 2, 1990, for­mer Iraqi dic­ta­tor Sad­dam Hus­sein led the in­va­sion and oc­cu­pa­tion of Kuwait, a small, oil-rich coun­try at the tip of the Per­sian Gulf. A coali­tion of na­tions led by the United States then banded to­gether to back Kuwait in en­su­ing mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions dubbed Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

By Fe­bru­ary 1991, coali­tion forces drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and back into their own ter­ri­tory, prompt­ing a cease-fire. Hus­sein, how­ever, was left in power as the coun­try’s pres­i­dent, a role he kept un­til he was forced from of­fice and ul­ti­mately ex­e­cuted af­ter U.S. troops in­vaded the coun­try as part of the “War on Ter­ror.”

For­mer Chicago Fire Com­mis­sioner Jose San­ti­ago, a Marine vet­eran who served in Viet­nam, noted that a Chicago flag pro­vided by then-Mayor Richard M. Daley was brought to Kuwait and flown dur­ing the fight­ing.

“A lot of guys gave their all, left home and were gone for a long time, proud to de­fend and pro­tect our coun­try,” San­ti­ago said be­fore the group af­fixed a com­mem­o­ra­tive wreath to the gate that sur­rounds the “eter­nal” flame in Daley Plaza.

While there were hun­dreds of Amer­i­can ca­su­al­ties tal­lied dur­ing the Gulf War, the BBC has es­ti­mated be­tween 60,000 and 200,000 Iraqi sol­diers and another 100,000 to 200,000 civil­ians were killed in the con­flict.

AN­THONY VAZQUEZ/SUN-TIMES

Vet­er­ans stand dur­ing a wreath-lay­ing cer­e­mony at Daley Plaza on Sun­day to com­mem­o­rate sac­ri­fices in the Per­sian Gulf War.

AN­THONY VAZQUEZ/SUN-TIMES

Re­tired Ald. James Bal­cer said the lives of Illi­noisans and oth­ers lost in the Per­sian Gulf War should “never, ever be for­got­ten.”

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