25 years after The Storm

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Randahl J. Jenson
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
It was a clear, dark night over Baghdad.

An invisible predator slipped through the enemy's defenses and locked onto its prey with laser-guided precision.

With a press of a button, Operation Desert Shield became Operation Desert Storm.

The 2,000 pound bomb soared through the night sky toward its target -- hammering into the heart of Baghdad and destroying Saddam Hussein's main communications center. The bombing raid of Jan. 17, 1991 introduced a new and sinister bird of prey, the F-117 Nighthawk, as well as ushering a new phase in the Gulf War.        

Operation Desert Storm was a 39-country coalition effort to liberate the Middle Eastern country of Kuwait after Iraq invaded and annexed the country. Over 670,000 troops from 28 countries participated in this phase of the Persian Gulf War; about 425,000 of them were U.S. troops. Advancements in technology accompanied them and kept the battle in our favor.

It wasn't known to the world until the bombing of Baghdad on Jan. 17, 1991, but the United States had created a weapon ahead of its time -- radar-invisible, precision-bombing attack aircraft that revolutionized tactics for the military. The F-117 Nighthawk would be used extensively until the end of Operation Desert Storm, and would find its home at Holloman AFB, N.M. in the meantime.

On Feb. 4, 1991, an announcement stating the 49th Tactical Fighter Wing at Holloman would inactivate, and the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing with its F-117's would move to Holloman. Later, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Merril McPeak decided to retain the historical integrity of the 49th and allowed Holloman to keep the name. Holloman continued to provide the aircraft and Airmen necessary to sustain air superiority until the coalition victory on April 6, 1991.  

Throughout and since Operation Desert Storm, Holloman has continued to serve the United States by providing unparalleled air power and teams of Airmen capable of carrying out the Air Force's mission. 

Information from an Air Force document was used in this article.