EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Members of the 33rd Fighter Wing last week held the 26th Annual Khobar Towers Memorial Ceremony to honor the 12 Nomads and seven Airmen who lost their lives in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, in 1996.
On June 25, 1996, a sewage truck was used as a bomb and detonated near the housing complex where military, coalition partners, and civilians lived.
Among those killed were Tech. Sgt. Thanh V. (Gus) Nguyen, of Panama City, Florida, Airman 1st Class Brian W. McVeigh of Debary, Florida, and Master Sgt. Michael Heiser of Palm Coast, Florida. Other victims were from Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Indiana, Minnesota, California, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Kansas, New York, Louisiana, Michigan, and West Virginia.
“We are gathered here today, just as we have for the last 26 years, as Nomads past and present and as survivors and family members, to pay our respects, to honor the sacrifice, to thank God for the survivors, and to remember our 12 Nomads who gave their lives that day in service of a grateful nation,” said Col. Jack Arthaud, 33rd FW commander.
“It is a privilege to be here with you today.”
Khobar Towers housed approximately 3,000 Air Force personnel and several hundred U.S. Army troops. The attack left 498 U.S. and international military members and civilians injured.
“This was the bloodiest attack on America, between the Beirut Marine barracks bombing in 1983, and September 11, 2001,” said Arthaud.
“The immediate heroism and steadfast response of our Airmen and coalition partners following the Khobar Towers attack demonstrated the virtuous character of our Nomads and the justice of our purpose.”
A monument of the 33rd FW’s flaming sword emblem was built to commemorate the Airmen lost that day. Every year, a ceremony is held to reflect on the event and to honor those who died.
“We must never forget,” said Arthaud. “Part of our responsibility is to share the story and the background of this heinous terrorist attack and our Airmen’s heroic response.”
The names of the fallen are:
58th Fighter Squadron:
Master Sgt. Kendall K. Kitson, Jr. – Yukon, Oklahoma
Tech. Sgt. Daniel B. Cafourek – Watertown, South Dakota
Staff Sgt. Millard D. Campbell – Angelton, Texas
Senior Airman Earl F. Cartrette, Jr. – Sellersbug, Indiana
Airman 1st Class Brent E. Mathaler – Cambridge, Minnesota
Airman 1st Class Brian W. McVeigh – Debary, Florida
Airman 1st Class Joseph E. Rimkus – Madison, Illinois
Airman 1st Class Joshua E. Woody – Corning, California
60th Fighter Squadron:
Tech. Sgt. Patrick P. Fennig – Greendale, Wisconsin
33rd Logistics Group:
Tech. Sgt. Thanh V. (Gus) Nguyen – Panama City, Florida
33rd Operations Support Squadron:
Airman 1st Class Peter J. Morgera – Stratham, New Hampshire
33rd Maintenance Squadron:
Senior Airman Jeremy A. Taylor – Rosehill, Kansas
Patrick Air Force Base:
Capt. Christopher Adams – Massapaque Park, New York
Capt. Leland Timothy Haun – Fresno County, California
Master Sgt. Michael Heiser – Palm Coast, Florida
Staff Sgt. Kevin Johnson – Shreveport, Louisiana
Airman 1st Class Justin Wood – Modesto, California
Offutt Air Force Base:
Staff Sgt. Ronald King – Battle Creek, Michigan
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base:
Airman 1st Class Christopher Lester – Wyoming County, West Virginia
By Airman Christian Corely, 33rd Fighter Wing