The reality of the Persian Gulf War came to the slopes of Arlington National Cemetery yesterday as three men killed in connection with the conflict were remembered there.
Marine Capt. Jonathan R. Edwards, 34, Air Force Lt. Jorge Arteaga, 26, and retired Air Force Master Sgt. Bobbie E. Mozelle, 44, were the first Desert Storm-related casualties to be honored at the nation's most famous military cemetery.
Edwards, of Grand Rapids, Mich., was killed Feb. 2 when his AH-1 Cobra helicopter crashed in the desert near the Saudi border with Kuwait as it escorted another helicopter with injured servicemen aboard.
He had been in Saudi Arabia only a few weeks and was buried yesterday with full military honors as a chill wind whipped the bare trees.
As seven white horses drew a black-draped caisson bearing Edwards's cremated remains to the grave, family members sat quietly, comforting the Edwardses' three children. Near the end of the 15-minute burial rite, his widow, Gayle, gripped the hands of the couple's two weeping sons, Spencer, 13, and Bennett, 11. Daughter Adrianne, 8, sat close by.
At the conclusion of the service, seven honor guards saluted their fallen colleague with three rifle volleys, and a bugler played taps.
Many family members wept as they filed by the urn holding Edwards's remains, each pausing to place a single red rose at the grave.
Edwards's copilot, Marine Maj. Eugene McCarthy of Brooklyn, N.Y., also was killed in the helicopter crash, which military officials believe was the result of mechanical failure.
Also receiving full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery yesterday was Mozelle, a retired master sergeant and native of Detroit who was gunned down Feb. 7 by terrorists as he headed for his civilian job at the Incirlik Air Base near Adana, Turkey.
Incirlik has been the staging area for U.S. bombing missions in Iraq.
Arteaga, the son of a Bolvian diplomat, who had been in ROTC at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, was killed when the B-52 on which he flew crashed into the Indian Ocean. Military officials declined to specify the nature of the mission, but sources said it was related to the operation in the Persian Gulf.
Arteaga's remains were not recovered. He was honored at a private memorial service attended by family members and close friends.
Arteaga, who was married three weeks before his death, was navigator on the bomber. Also killed in the crash were Air Force Capt. Jeffrey Olson and Lt. Eric Hedeen, both 27.
Edwards is one of 14 Americans known to have been killed in action in Operation Desert Storm. Another 28 have been reported missing in action. An investment counselor in the Midwest since leaving the active duty Marines in 1986, Edwards had been a reservist for two years with the Marine Helicopter Squadron at the naval air station in Glenview, Ill.
One Marine from the base where Edwards was stationed, who could not attend yesterday's service, said he would miss his friend.
"He was a good guy," said Maj. Tim Heidkamp, reached by phone. "I've seen 50 or 60 guys die in 14 years of flying, both in training and in war.
"It's something you live with," Heidkamp said, "but it's something you never get used to."