Khobar Towers: ceremony honors survivors, fallen

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Rachel Coates
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

Airmen assigned to the 71st Rescue Squadron attended the Khobar Towers survivors’ monument dedication ceremony at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, Alabama, June 24, 2022.

This year marks the 26th anniversary of the bombing of Khobar Towers in 1996, where 19 lives were lost and many were injured in a terrorist attack.

The monument dedication ceremony, held at the Air Force Enlisted Heritage Hall, honored those who passed away and survived the attack.

“It was an incredible memorial that was done today and it’s a beautiful monument,” said Kathy Wood, mother of Airman 1st Class Justin Wood, a fallen servicemember of the Khobar Towers attack. “It’s an excellent way to express our thanks to all who served and especially those who survived during (the attack) because they were with our loved ones.”

The monument reads as follows:

‘This day signaled to the Air Force and our nation that we were at war with a determined and evil enemy. It was the opening salvo in what would become a much greater conflict. The Khobar Towers attack was a story of courage, sacrifice and honor. Every Airman who died in that attack and every member of the 4404th Wing (P) who responded so heroically is an American hero. When the bomb went off, we lost 19 great Airmen and the lives of hundreds more were changed forever. Immediately after the attack, America’s Airmen sprang into action, pulling comrades out of the rubble and performing life saving aid. Without the incredible bravery of our Airmen, the death toll would have been much higher. The individual stories of heroism on that day weave together to form a picture of a tremendous team that embodied everything that is great about the Air Force. We will not forget their heroism nor will we forget how much they lost on that day.
-Heather Wilson, Secretary of the Air Force.’

A statue of a bald eagle spreading its wings was placed upon the top of the monument, making it an eye-catching addition to the historical mementos that are abundant at the heritage hall.

“We still place this event as a significant point within our unit’s history, and we don’t forget the names of the fallen and those who survived that day,” said Col. Brian Desautels, 71st RQS commander. “We had multiple individuals from our squadron die during the attack, but the ones who survived were recognized for their bravery during the attack and continued to go on and save additional lives.”

The 71st RQS, stationed at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida at the time, lost five members in the attack.

On this day, we remember our 19 lost brothers in arms: Capt. Christopher Adams, Capt. Leland Haun, Master Sgt. Michael Heiser, Master Sgt. Kendall Kitson, Tech. Sgt. Daniel Cafourek, Tech. Sgt. Patrick Fennig, Tech. Sgt. Thanh Nguyen, Staff Sgt. Ronald King, Staff Sgt. Kevin Johnson, Sergeant Millard Campbell, Senior Airman Earl Cartrette Jr., Senior Airman Jeremy Taylor, Airman 1st Class Christopher Lester, Airman 1st Class Brent Marthaler, Airman 1st Class Brian McVeigh, Airman 1st Class Peter Morgera, Airman 1st Class Joseph Rimkus, Airman 1st Class Justin Wood and Airman 1st Class Joshua Woody.