HomeNewsArticle Display

25 years later: remembering the fallen

Remembering Khobar Towers 25 years later

A rose lays on top a folded flag during 25th anniversary Khobar Tower memorial ceremony, June 25, 2021, on Patrick Space Force Base, Florida. On the night of June 25, 1996, a bomb was detonated near the Khobar Tower housing complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 19 Airmen and injuring more than 400 U.S. and international military members and civilians. The towers housed coalition forces supporting Operation Southern Watch, a no-fly zone operation in Southern Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Kelly Goonan)

Khobar Towers

On the night of June 25, 1996, a bomb was detonated near the Khobar Tower housing complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 19 Airmen and injuring more than 400 U.S. and international military members and civilians. The towers housed coalition forces supporting Operation Southern Watch, a no-fly zone operation in Southern Iraq. (Courtesy photo)

Khobar Towers

n the night of June 25, 1996, a bomb was detonated near the Khobar Tower housing complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 19 Airmen and injuring more than 400 U.S. and international military members and civilians. The towers housed coalition forces supporting Operation Southern Watch, a no-fly zone operation in Southern Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cesar Rodriguez)

25th Annual Memorial Ceremony

Senior Master Sgt. Heidi White, 920th Rescue Wing education and training, sings the National Anthem alongside her daughter during the Khobar Towers 25th Annual Memorial Ceremony at Patrick Space Force Base, Florida, June 25, 2021. On June 25, 1996, a bomb was detonated near the Khobar Towers housing complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Nineteen Airmen were killed, and more than 400 U.S. and international military and civilians were injured in the blast. Of the 19 killed, 12 were Nomads. Each year, the 33rd Fighter Wing remembers the sacrifice of those impacted by the attack. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Kelly Goonan)

Khobar Towers 25th Annual Memorial Ceremony

The Honor Guard places the American and Air Force flags during the Khobar Towers 25th Annual Memorial Ceremony at Patrick Space Force Base, Florida, June 25, 2021. On June 25, 1996, a bomb was detonated near the Khobar Towers housing complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Nineteen Airmen were killed, and more than 400 U.S. and international military and civilians were injured in the blast. Of the 19 killed, 12 were Nomads. Each year, the 33rd Fighter Wing remembers the sacrifice of those impacted by the attack. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Kelly Goonan)

Remembering Khobar Towers 25 years later

Airmen stand next to 19 chairs with 19 roses and 19 folded flags representing the 19 fallen Airmen during the 25th anniversary Khobar Tower memorial ceremony, June 25, 2021, on Patrick Space Force Base, Florida. On the night of June 25, 1996, a bomb was detonated near the Khobar Tower housing complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 19 Airmen and injuring more than 400 U.S. and international military members and civilians. The towers housed coalition forces supporting Operation Southern Watch, a no-fly zone operation in Southern Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Kelly Goonan)

Khobar Towers 25th Annual Memorial Ceremony

1st Rescue Group Commander, (retired) Col. Tom Friers speaks to the audience during the Khobar Towers 25th Annual Memorial Ceremony at Patrick Space Force Base, Florida, June 25, 2021. On June 25, 1996, a bomb was detonated near the Khobar Towers housing complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Nineteen Airmen were killed, and more than 400 U.S. and international military and civilians were injured in the blast. Of the 19 killed, 12 were Nomads. Each year, the 33rd Fighter Wing remembers the sacrifice of those impacted by the attack. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Kelly Goonan)

Remembering Khobar Towers 25 years later

Nineteen roses lay on top 19 folded flags during the 25th anniversary Khobar Tower memorial ceremony, June 25, 2021, on Patrick Space Force Base, Florida. On the night of June 25, 1996, a bomb was detonated near the Khobar Tower housing complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 19 Airmen and injuring more than 400 U.S. and international military members and civilians. The towers housed coalition forces supporting Operation Southern Watch, a no-fly zone operation in Southern Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Kelly Goonan)

Remembering Khobar Towers 25 years later

Staff Sgt.'s Shanika Carter, 920th Force Support Squadron, and Briar Prescott, 308th Rescue Squadron, render a salute during the 25th anniversary Khobar Tower memorial ceremony, June 25, 2021, on Patrick Space Force Base, Florida. On the night of June 25, 1996, a bomb was detonated near the Khobar Tower housing complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 19 Airmen and injuring more than 400 U.S. and international military members and civilians. The towers housed coalition forces supporting Operation Southern Watch, a no-fly zone operation in Southern Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Kelly Goonan)

PATRICK SPACE FORCE BASE, Fla. --

Family, friends and fellow Airmen gathered here yesterday to remember and honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice 25 years ago following the Khobar Towers bombing.

On June 25th 1996, a fuel tanker truck packed with 5,000 pounds of explosives was detonated next to the northern perimeter fence of the 4404th Composite Wing (provisional) barracks near Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. The eight-story building housed 2,000 U.S Forces, including those assigned to the 1st Rescue Group, a precursor to the 920th Rescue Wing, and a deployed fighter squadron. The explosion was heard 20 miles away and left an 85-foot-wide crater. Nineteen service members were killed and 498 were injured.

Individuals identified as members of the Iran-backed Saudi Hezbollah al-Hejaz terrorist group were responsible for the bombing.

Among the 19 lives lost, five of them served at Patrick Space Force base.

They are:
Capt. Christopher J. Adams of Massapequa Park, N.Y.
Capt. Leland T. Haun of Colvis, Calif.
Master Sgt. Michael G. Heiser, Palm Coast, Fla
Staff Sgt. Kevin J. Johnson of Shreveport, La.
Airman First Class Justin R. Wood of Modesta, Calif

Darrell Hankins, a former member of the 1st RQG and current 920th RQW employee, gave opening remarks to those in attendance

“These things we do that others may live is our creed, never to be forgotten, which is why are here today,” said Hankins. “Nineteen Airmen perished on that dreadful day 25 years ago, five of which were from our rescue family here at Patrick.”

A ceremonial presentation of colors and national anthem were performed in reverence before family and friends before the 920th RQW Commander, Col. John Dobbin, addressed the audience.

“When we ask why a friend or loved one was taken too soon, perhaps the true measure isn’t time, but rather purpose," said Col. Dobbin. "Those we recognize today lived with purpose not for self but for others.”

The 19 empty chairs to remember the fallen Airmen were front and center as retired Col. Tom Friers, former 1st Rescue Group commander, spoke about the gravity of their sacrifice and the importance of commemorating.

“This last year and half has brought us mind numbing chaos, COVID -19 and our own nation divided, we can only wonder what the future holds,” said Col. Friers. “One thing that has never wavered during this tumultuous 25 years is the love and respect for the airmen we lost and honor today.

A permanent memorial is located on Patrick Space Force Base just outside of the 920th RQW headquarters. During the ceremony a wreath was placed at the granite memorial dedicated to the 19 Airmen who selflessly lost their lives in service. The ceremony concluded with a 39th Rescue Squadron HC-130J Combat King II flyover and the rendering of a traditional salute by the tipping of their wings in honor of the nineteen.