Larry Hendrickson, a member of Tech. Sgt. Thanh Nguyen’s extended family, salutes the flag as the flaming sword of remembrance burns during the Khobar Towers Memorial ceremony June 25 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Nguyen was killed in the bombing attack 16 years ago, June 25, 1996. The tragedy took 19 military members and 12 33rd Fighter Wing Nomads. (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)
Flowers and wreaths were placed along the Khobar Towers Memorial Wall to honor the fallen on the 16th anniversary of the tragic bombing that killed 19 military members and 12 33rd Fighter Wing Nomads. (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)
Amid gusting winds and threatening rain clouds from Tropical Storm Debby, Airmen, Marines, Sailors and family members gathered to remember 19 warriors and 12 33rd Fighter Wing Nomads on the 16th anniversary of the Khobar Towers bombing June 25 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)
Troy Lowe, a retired command chief of the 33rd Fighter Wing, was the guest speaker at the Khobar Towers Memorial ceremony June 25 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Lowe was the command chief of the wing when the bombing took place in 1996 participated in the creation of the memorial to pay tribute to their fallen Nomads. The ceremony marked the 16th anniversary of the tragedy that killed 19 military members and 12 33rd FW Nomads. (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)
The flaming sword of remembrance burns amid high winds caused by Tropical Storm Debby, while Eglin Honor Guard members present the colors during the Khobar Towers Memorial ceremony June 25 at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The ceremony marked the 16th anniversary of the tragedy of the Khobar Towers bombing that killed 19 military members and 12 33rd Fighter Wing Nomads. (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)
by Samuel King
Eglin Air Force Base Public Affairs
6/25/2012 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- Amid gusting winds and threatening rain clouds of Tropical Storm Debby, Airmen, Marines, Sailors and family members gathered to remember 19 warriors and 12 33rd Fighter Wing Nomads on the 16th anniversary of the Khobar Towers bombing June 25.
"I'm humbled to be a part of this ceremony," said Col. Andrew Toth, 33rd FW commander. "It reminds us, as a nation, that America is in a time of war and has always known conflict. The 33rd will continue the same patriotism. After 16 years, the eternal flame of remembrance still burns brightly. Those who paid the ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten."
A terrorist attack at Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, June 25, 1996, resulted in 400 casualties among civilian and military personnel. Members of the 33rd FW's enlisted force were caught in harm's way that day.
At the ceremony, guest speakers and family members of the fallen Nomads described the common values held by the service members as a bond that brings everyone together.
"Many of you in the audience may have known one or more of these proud warriors," Toth said. "Their sacrifice and your own has not been in vain. The reason we as Americans, are free and continue to be free is because of what they have done."
Guest speaker, Troy Lowe was the wing's command chief when the tragedy occurred. He spoke about the chaos that surrounded the wing in the aftermath with returning aircraft, grieving friends and family and a looming presidential visit.
"The wing was running on adrenaline," he remembered. "We knew we couldn't change what happened to these Airmen on that June day, but the least we could do is pay our respects and remember them... and never let their sacrifice be forgotten."
Then, the retired chief held up a small piece of stone from the Khobar Towers building and placed it on the podium. He said he keeps it on his desk as a constant reminder.
After the chief spoke, the crowd observed a moment of silence by the eternal flame, as the base honor guard rendered a 21-gun salute and Taps.
The 12 Nomads were members of the 58th Fighter Squadron, 60th Fighter Squadron, 33d Logistics Group, 33d Maintenance Squadron and 33d Operations Support Squadron. They represented a cross-section of the wing as crew chiefs, expeditors, weapons loaders, mechanics, production superintendents, program managers, and technicians. The unit was deployed in support of Operation Southern Watch when a truck bomb exploded near the dormitory housing 33rd FW members. The memorial here honoring the Nomads' memory was dedicated a year after the tragedy.
"Let us now praise theses quiet American heroes, who gave their lives in service to America. May they rest in peace and may their names live on forever," said former President William J. Clinton, days after the attack. "Our Nomads have ceased their wandering. They have come home."
The Nomads who gave their lives June 25, 1996:
Tech. Sgt Daniel Cafourek
Sgt. Millard Dee Campbell
Senior Airman Earl Cartrette, Jr.
Tech. Sgt. Patrick Fennig
Master Sgt. Kendall Kitson, Jr.
Airman 1st Class Brent Marthaler
Airman 1st Class Brian McVeigh
Airman 1st Class Peter Morgera
Tech. Sgt. Thanh Gus Nguyen
Airman 1st Class Joseph Rimkus
Senior Airman Jeremy Taylor
Airman 1st Class Joshua Woody
6/27/2012 10:55:10 AM ET These individuals should still be alive because the area outside the perimeter of Khobar Towers was already identified as a security risk when I was there in 1991.
6/26/2012 9:14:48 AM ET I was there that terrible night. Seen things I hope to never see again. I also saw how the AF came together as a team. Everyone was helping out and doing what they could to make a bad situation better. Let's never forget what happen that night