Falcon's Cry: A Desert Storm Memoir

By Denise Donnelly; Michael Donnelly | Go to book overview

Preface

From Hahn Air Base in Germany, where he had been stationed since late 1989, Captain Michael Donnelly, an F-16 fighter pilot, deployed to Operation Desert Shield on December 28, 1990. His wife Susan, pregnant with their second child, had left Germany for the United States the day before, taking with her their three-year-old daughter, Erin.

At that same time, Michael's brother, Timothy, a lieutenant in the Marine Corps, was aboard the USS Inchon in the Mediterranean, awaiting the start of the land war, in which his battalion was scheduled to participate.

Michael Donnelly flew 44 successful combat missions during the Persian Gulf War. He and his brother, along with 700,000 other troops, returned to the United States as war heroes. When they came home, we festooned them in patriotic bunting. We welcomed them as the saviors of our bruised self-esteem. Politicians embraced them. Journalists celebrated them. Generals retired and launched lucrative careers from the honorable debris of the war they fought. They made us proud to be Americans again. Not since the end of World War II had we enjoyed such a powerful tide of national self-confidence.

We had won a war. We had got it right this time.

Today, Timothy Donnelly is healthy. Released from the Marines, he is newly married. His first child, a healthy baby girl, was born in August 1997.

Michael Donnelly, 39, is confined to a wheelchair. He suffers from ALS--amyotrophic lateral sclerosis--more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease. This in itself might be sad but unremarkable, if it weren't for the fact that at least 18 other Gulf War veterans, all men younger than 40, are also suffering from this same rare disease. Any neurologist worth his clinical independence from federal funding will tell you that 18 cases of ALS among a healthy population of 700,000 people under the age of 40 places this incidence at more than 18 times the norm. And these are only the cases we know about.

More than 110,000 Gulf War veterans are sick. Many are dying of rare and ravaging cancers, heart conditions, and neurological diseases of mys-

-ix-

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Falcon's Cry: A Desert Storm Memoir
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Preface ix
  • Part I Air Warrior 1
  • Needle, Ball and Air Speed 3
  • Part II The Widening Gyre 13
  • The Apple Wars 15
  • Wild Blue Yonder 23
  • Velocity and Vector 39
  • Part III Victory Takes Wings 53
  • Lines in the Sand 55
  • Peaceday, Warday 67
  • Crossing the Fence 81
  • Crud 101
  • How Do You Spell Victory? 111
  • Part IV The Wings of Icarus 123
  • No Joy 127
  • Solo 137
  • Bogeys 147
  • Near Miss 156
  • Lost Wingman 170
  • Homecoming 184
  • A Full 360 204
  • Bandits, Twelve O'Clock 220
  • Part V Fallen Angels 231
  • Nordo 235
  • Epilogue 243
  • A Fighter Pilot's Glossary of Terms 245
  • Congressional Report-- House of Representatives 249
  • About the Authors 253
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