Nearly 700,000 U.S. troops served in Operation Desert Storm, and 25 years later, plans are underway to add a memorial on Washington, D.C.'s National Mall to honor their sacrifices.
The effort to create the National Desert Storm Veterans War Memorial is gaining strength. The memorial is planned for the northwestern corner of the National Mall — steps from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial.
"We feel that it belongs here, close to the others, especially Vietnam," said Scott Stump, the CEO and president of the National Desert Storm War Memorial Association.
The memorial, which received congressional and presidential approval after six years, is designed to feature the names of those who died during the war.
Early renderings show a massive, curved wall made of Kuwaiti limestone, recalling the sands of Kuwait's desert.
"The left hook design shows the military maneuver up into Iraq that enveloped Kuwait to liberate them," Stump said.
The design is intended to surround visitors with images and stories from the Gulf War and the names of those who died.
Two of the soldiers who never returned home served with Fred Wellman, a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army. Hal Reichle and Mike Daniels’ helicopter crashed when weather took a turn for the worse.
Wellman was one of the U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm. He flew scout missions during the war.
"We were facing the fourth-largest army in the world at the time," he said. "Iran and Iraq had fought for eight years. This was a battle-tested army."
Operation Desert Storm started with an air assault Jan. 17, 1991, after Iraq occupied Kuwait. The operation ended four days after U.S. ground troops entered Iraq on Feb. 24.
Wellman said 383 fighters did not return home.
The memorial in honor of the soldiers killed is estimated to cost at least $25 million. So far, the memorial association has raised a fraction of that sum.
Stump said despite that, he hopes to have the memorial dedicated in 2018. He said he is trying to raise awareness.
Some of that awareness came on Memorial Day, when 500 Desert Storm veterans marched in D.C.’s annual parade.
The memorial effort will provide a place to honor the service of these veterans, and of fallen soldiers like Riechle and Daniels.
"I would just hate for America to forget that there was a moment in time where we stood up when called, and we did our duty, and we did it well," Wellman said.