Khobar Towers victims remembered on 15th anniversary Published June 24, 2011 By Samuel King Jr. 96th Air Base Wing Public Affairs EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- Airmen, Marines, Sailors and family members gathered here to remember 19 brave warriors and 12 valiant 33rd Fighter Wing Airmen on the 15th anniversary of the Khobar Towers bombing June 24. "I'm humbled to be a part of this ceremony," said Col. Andrew Toth, the 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. An eternal flame 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 service members 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," Colonel 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, Retired Lt. Col. Bob Ambrose, a former maintenance officer with the 33rd FW, was deployed with the victims at the time of the tragedy. "The 12 would want me to tell you how thankful they are you attended today," the retired colonel said. "They gave everything; people remember that." Colonel Ambrose remembered finding solace in a statement about the team being headed from a new mission in heaven from a co-worker responsible for flight manifests. The colonel said if not for their self-aid buddy care and rapid response training, many of the survivors would not have made it. After the colonel spoke, the crowd observed a moment of silence, as the base honor guard rendered a rifle volley. Pilots from the 33rd FW flew in a missing-man formation overhead to close the ceremony. "It's bittersweet," said Sandy Windman, the niece of one of the fallen 33rd Airmen, Tech. Sgt. Thanh Gus Nguyen. "I think about the good memories of when he was alive, but also the sadness of our loss and what could've been." The 12 Airmen were members of the 58th Fighter Squadron, the 60th Fighter Squadron, the 33rd Logistics Group, the 33rd Maintenance Squadron and the 33rd 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 Airmen's memory was dedicated a year after the tragedy. "Let us now praise these quiet American heroes, who gave their lives in service to America. May they rest in peace and may their names live on forever," said then President Bill Clinton, days after the attack.