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THIS PICTURE IS DEDICATED TO "SPIRIT 03"


In 1991, the United States sought to protect the national security interest by launching Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield in the "Persian Gulf" area of the Mideast (Iraq and Kuwait). Spirit 03, an AC-130H gunship assigned to the 16th Special Operations Squadron of the Air Force Special Operations Command which was downed in combat during the Battle of Khafji, was engaging ground forces of the enemy in night-time battle and was faced with a "return to base" decision. Concerned that American Marines were still in need of aerial assault support, the crew elected to continue on, although they knew that daybreak would soon reveal their location. As morning light illuminated the aircraft, the enemy launched a surface-to-air missile which destroyed the plane and killed all 14 crew members.


These fourteen men left eighteen surviving children. At the time of their fathers' deaths, the children's ages ranged from one month to seventeen years; the median age was about four years.






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