Name: Maurizio Cocciolone
Unit: Italian Air Force
Home City: Italy
Date of Loss: 16 January 1991
Country of Loss:
Status: Released Prisoner of War 03/04/01
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 2020 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
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.