This raw and provocative image captured during Operation Desert Storm encapsulates the true sacrifice and tragedy of war better than any news segment or textbook ever could.

Just moments after an intense battle in the unforgiving Iraq desert, Sgt. Ken Kozakiewicz asked the name of the soldier in the body bag right next to him. When he learned that it was the body of his buddy Pvt. Andy Alaniz, Kozakiewicz unleashed a wail of anguish. The moment was caught on film and it quickly became the signature image of Operation Desert Storm.

Kozakiewicz’s poignant grief spoke of both his friendship and the tragedy of Alaniz’s loss. Killed by friendly fire, Alaniz left behind his nineteen year-old pregnant wife, Catherine Alaniz-Simonds. The widow took solace in the photo, which let her know that her husband was surrounded by friends until the very end.

Unfortunately, Kozakiewicz did not appreciate the mass-circulation of this moment of agony, and he avoided contact with Alaniz-Simonds for 21 years. After communicating online for three years, the two finally met in person.

Read the full story of closure and recovery at, the news outlet that originally connected Kozakiewicz and Alaniz-Simonds.

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