Desert Storm Combat Women

ABOUT "The Storm"

Timeline of the Gulf War begins on August 2, 1990 and ends on February 28, 1991.

Desert Storm Soldiers Paved the Way for Women Veterans

Women veterans really began coming to the Veterans Administration (VA) with combat-type physical and mental issues after the first Gulf War.

A generation of women who served in Operation Desert Storm in 1990-1991 were right beside the men when they were all were exposed to multiple environmental and chemical toxins.

This led to Gulf War Illness, the neurological condition that is accompanied by a large number of debilitating symptoms from chronic fatigue syndrome to skin conditions to headaches to gastrointestinal problems and much more.

For many women who served in Operation Desert Storm, the war never ended.

“It’s the wounds you can’t see that are sometimes the worst because people think we are fine and we’re not,” said Denise Nichols, an Air Force nurse and Operation Desert Storm veteran.



J​​anuary 9: Talks in Geneva, Switzerland, between U.S. Secretary of State James Baker and Iraq Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz ended with no progress.

January 12 : U.S. Congress passed a joint resolution authorizing the use of military force to drive Iraq out of Kuwait. The votes were 52-47 in the U.S. Senate and 250-183 in the U.S. House of Representatives. These were the closest margins in authorizing force by the Congress since the War of 1812.

January 15: First U.S. government statement of Operation Desert Storm made.

January 16: Coalition forces lead by the U.S. start deploying into Kuwait through the Persian Gulf and the Saudi Arabian border, starting the first official infantry combat

January 17: The air war commenced at 2:38 a.m. (local time) or January 16 at 6:38 p.m. EST due to an 8-hour time difference, with an U.S. Apache helicopter attack. U.S.-led Coalition warplanes attacked Baghdad, Kuwait, and other military targets in Iraq.

January 18: Iraq launched SCUD missiles on Israel. The U.S. deploys Patriot missiles to Israel and Saudi Arabia.
January 22: Iraqi troops begins blowing up Kuwaiti oil wells.

January 25: Iraqi troops dumped millions of gallons of crude oil into the Persian Gulf.

January 29: Iraqi forces invaded the town of Khafji in Saudi Arabia. Iraqi forces were soon engaged by Saudi Arabian and Qatari troops with help from U.S. Marines.

January 30: 11 U.S. Marines in LAV's were killed in friendly fire incident by Air Force A-10 aircraft near town of Al Khafji while they were attacking a company of Iraqi tanks.

January 31: Iraqi forces captured 20-year-old U.S. Army Specialist Melissa Rathbun-Nealy and Army Specialist David Lockett while driving a heavy flatbed truck near the border of Saudi Arabian-Kuwaiti border. Melissa Rathbun-Nealy was the first female U.S. Prisoner of War since World War II.

February 1: Iraqi forces were driven out of Saudi Arabia. Coalition forces won the Battle of Khafji.

February 13: An Amiriyah shelter bombing by two USAF F-117 Nighthawks killed 408 Iraqi civilians in a military air raid shelter located inside a military communications building.

February 17: In an incident of friendly fire near the east-west line 5 kilometers north of the Saudi-Iraqi border, a U.S. Bradley Fighting Vehicle (Bradley) and an M113 Armored Personnel Carrier (M113) were destroyed by two Hellfire missiles fired from a U.S. Apache helicopter commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Hayles, killing two U.S. soldiers and injuring six others.

February 22: U.S. President George H. W. Bush issued a 24-hour ultimatum: Iraq must withdraw from Kuwait to avoid start of a ground war.

February 24: Ground war begins when U.S.-led Coalition forces invaded Iraq and Kuwait at around 4 a.m. Baghdad time. British Special Air Service was the first to enter Iraqi territory.

February 25: An Iraqi SCUD missile struck U.S. barracks near Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 28 U.S. troops.

February 26: Saddam Hussein ordered the Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait. About 10,000 retreating Iraqi troops were killed when Coalition aircraft bombed their stolen civilian and military vehicles. This is called the Highway of Death.

February 27: U.S. Marines and Saudi Arabian troops entered Kuwait City. U.S. Army then engaged the Iraqi Republican Guard in several tank battles in Iraq, also known as the Battle of Medina Ridge

February 28: U.S. President George H. W. Bush announced a ceasefire and that Kuwait had been liberated from Iraqi occupation

March 1: A cease-fire plan was negotiated in Safwan, Iraq.

March 3: Iraq accepts the terms of a ceasefire from the U.N. Security Council.

March 8: First U.S. troops arrived home. 4/325 82d Airborne, Landed in NYC

May 28–30: Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein says that oil overproduction by Kuwait and United Arab Emirates was an "economic warfare" against Iraq.

July 15: Iraq accused Kuwait of stealing oil from the Rumaylah, Iraq's oil field near the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border and warns of military action.

July 22: Iraq begins deploying troops to the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border and building a massive military buildup.

August 2: About 100,000 Iraqi troops invaded Kuwait, initiating the Gulf War. The U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 661 imposing a trade embargo on Iraq in a 13-0 vote, with Cuba and Yemen abstaining.

August 7: The United States launched Operation Desert Shield. First U.S. troops arrived in Saudi Arabia.

August 8: Saddam Hussein proclaimed the annexation of Kuwait.

August 12: Naval blockade of Iraq begins.

August 28: Iraq declared Kuwait as its 19th province and renames Kuwait City as al-Kadhima.

September 14: United Kingdom and France announce the deployment of troops to Saudi Arabia.

November 29: The U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 678 setting a deadline for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait before 



War in the Persian Gulf (1990-1991): Some 40,000 American military women are deployed during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Two Army women are taken prisoner by the Iraqis.

1991: The Navy assigns the first women to command a Naval Station and an aviation squadron. 
The first Navy woman assumes command of a ship. 
The Air Force Reserve selects its first woman senior enlisted advisor. 

Congress repeals laws banning women from flying in combat. 

For the first time in history, a woman is named Brigade Commander at the Naval Academy.




Desert Storm Thanksgiving with the 13th Signal Bn of the 1st Cavalry Division,
primarily 1st Platoon A Company.

  1. Women in the Persian Gulf War
    Library Of Congress Published on Jul 9, 2012 The Library's Veterans History Project commemorated Women's History Month with a landmark panel discussion on the contributions of women to the Persian Gulf War and the impact on women veterans in the more than 20 years since.