May 30, 1991 12:00 PM

For many Americans, the graveside photograph of the Edwards family (Gayle, 39, her three children, Bennett, 11, Adriane, 8, and Spencer, 13, and her father-in-law, Preston) stripped away all that was distant and surgical about the “easy” war in the gulf. On Feb. 2, Marine Capt. Jonathan “Jack” Edwards, 34, of Grand Rapids, Mich., went down in his helicopter gunship over Saudi Arabia while escorting wounded soldiers from the front. The picture has prompted about 400 letters so far. “I look forward to the mail every day,” Gayle says. “Sometimes it makes me cry, but I still look forward to it.” She hopes all the attention will serve as a memorial to her husband. “He went out in a blaze of glory; that’s important for the children to have. He was definitely a hero,” says Edwards, who would have celebrated her 15th wedding anniversary in June. The kids have been “amazingly normal,” she adds. “We try to get over the rough days and share the good ones.”

While allied forces celebrated the success of the Patriot antimissile system, the stricken expressions of Israelis spoke poignantly of the Iraqi Scuds that found their targets. Two days after a Scud smashed into a Tel Aviv neighborhood, a father and son paused during a search through their ruined home. “There was virtually nothing left,” says German photographer Tim Brakemeier.

March 8 was a long day for the Yates family. Jeanette Yates awakened her three children, Adriel, 8, Esther, 6, and Jarod, 3, at 4 A.M. SO that they could catch a flight from their home in northern Maine to Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Va. Then they shivered in the cold for several hours as they awaited the arrival of Capt. Rodney Yates, 33, after his seven-month tour of duty in the gulf. The moment her dad stepped onto the tarmac, little Esther rushed forward. “She missed him the most, I think,” says Jeanette, 33. “She was real teary-eyed and real emotional. Her face said what she felt.” His face was hidden from view, but no one doubts it said exactly the same thing. “There’s nothing that could have eclipsed that,” he says. “That was a good moment.”

Injured by Iraqi artillery, Sgt. Ken Kozakiewicz, 23, of West Seneca, N.Y. (left), and Cpl. Michael Tengarakiis, 21, of Queens, N.Y., were rushed onto a medevac helicopter. Moments later, Kozakiewicz broke into tears when he learned that in the body bag beside them was his bunkmate at Fort Stewart, Ga., Spc. Andy Alaniz, 20. “He was a real good guy,” says Kozakiewicz. “He was the life of the platoon.” Kozakiewicz first saw the photo when he was in an Army hospital in Germany, recuperating from a broken hand. At first the photo made him angry. “You’re expressing your emotions, and then there’s a picture of it,” he says. “It’s like an invasion.” But he is slowly accepting it. “It still hurts to see it,” he says, “but that’s only normal.”

Shortly after U.S. troops liberated Kuwait City on Feb. 27, the streets filled with motorcades, the Stars and Stripes borne triumphantly atop one car. “All of a sudden this old Kuwaiti asked for the flag,” says Reuters photographer Santiago Lyon. “A young man handed it to him, and the old man started waving it around.” Then he paused for this reverential embrace.

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