Name: Maurizio Cocciolone Rank/Branch: Captain Unit: Italian Air Force Age: Home City: Italy Date of Loss: 16 January 1991 Country of Loss: Loss Coordinates: Status: Released Prisoner of War 03/04/01 Acft/Vehicle/Ground: Tornado
Other Personnel in Incident: (unknown)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 09 March 1991 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, published sources, interviews. Update 2002 POW NETWORK.
REMARKS: OPERATION DESERT STORM
SYNOPSIS: On January 16, 1991, Allied forces began concentrated air strikes on Iraqi military targets in Iraq and Kuwait. Participating in the strikes were U.S., British, Italian and Kuwaiti air forces. The United Kingdom had the second largest military contingent of troops after the U.S. with 35-40,000 troops, 75 Tornado fighter/bombers, and sixteen warships.
Italian Air Force Captain Maurizio Cocciolone was the pilot of a Tornado GR1 fighter/bomber which flew in the first wave of strikes. During the strike, two Italian fighter jets were shot down, including Cocciolone's Toronado. It is not possible from early reports to determine the exact locations of the losses.
Cocciolone was captured by Iraqi forces. In all, seven Allied airmen were shot down captured in the first waves of strikes.
On January 20, 1991, Cocciolone appeared on Iraqi television in an apparent propaganda effort by his Iraqi captors. First the voice interviews, followed by the videotapes, were released by Cable News Network (CNN). Cocciolone appeared to be speaking under extreme duress. Also on January 20, the Iraqis stated that their POWs would be used as "human shields" to protect their important military targets from strikes by Allied forces.
British Prime Minister John Major immediately charged that Iraq's treatment of Allied POWs was "wholly objectionable" and against the Geneva accords for treatment of prisoners of war. U.S. Vice President Dan Quail said that Iraqi leaders would be held "personally" responsible for the obvious mistreatment of Allied POWs.
On March 3, 1991, a smiling Maurizio Cocciolone greeted cameras when he was released by the Iraqis. According to U.S. national media, all non-U.S. Coalition POWs except one Kuwaiti, were released by March 6. Most had been held at Basra, and reported being well-treated.