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28th Khobar Towers memorial ceremony: Remembering the fallen

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Briana Beavers
  • 33rd Fighter Wing

An explosion, heard from more than 20 miles away, rocked and decimated the walls of the barracks near King Abdulaziz Air Base as frantic screams of terror pour out of the building. 

On the night of June 25, 1996, 19 Airmen lost their lives while over 400 U.S. and international military and civilian members were injured during the Khobar Towers attack in Dharan, Saudi Arabia; 12 of the fallen were Nomads.  

Today, over 200 attendees from the 33rd Fighter Wing and local community gathered in remembrance of the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice on the 28th anniversary of the Khobar Towers bombing.  

This year's memorial included a guest speaker, the traditional wreath-laying, recitation of names, and the playing of “Taps”. The recitation of names was carried out by 19 current Airmen from the 33rd FW who were chosen to stand on behalf of the fallen, deliver the fallen member’s name, and render a salute. 

“As we reflect on this tragedy, we are reminded of the incredible acts of courage and camaraderie that emerged from that fateful night,” said Col. Dave Skalicky, 33rd Fighter Wing commander. “Many of our Nomads exemplified selflessness and courage in the face of unimaginable danger. Their actions that night continue to inspire us and serve as a poignant reminder of the personal costs of service.” 

Following Skalicky’s remarks, Zach Sutton, a survivor of the attack, Catalyst Church of Panama City pastor, and ceremony guest speaker, spoke of the wounds that remain. 

“I was 23 years old when I showed up in 1996 to Khobar Towers,” said Sutton. “I stand here today 28 years later still wounded by this event. Like most of the survivors today I have physical scars, but even more than that I have unseen scars ... almost every survivor you meet today has the same struggles, and to them I say ‘Keep going, don’t let the hard days win’.” 

The wing’s emblem, the flaming sword, stands at the center of the memorial, where an inscription reads: "This monument is dedicated to the brave warriors who were killed by a terrorist bomb at Khobar Towers, Saudi Arabia, on June 25, 1996. They made the ultimate sacrifice as guardians of this grateful nation. We shall never forget them."  

The names of the fallen are below: 

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