Memorial Ceremony Marks 28 Years Since Khobar Towers Bombing

In Brief:

  • Over 200 attendees, including members of the 33rd Fighter Wing and the local community, gathered to honor the 19 Airmen killed in the 1996 Khobar Towers terrorist attack.
  • The memorial event featured a guest speaker, traditional wreath-laying, name recitation, and the playing of “Taps” to pay tribute to the fallen.
  • Col. Dave Skalicky and attack survivor Zach Sutton delivered remarks highlighting the courage and enduring scars of those affected by the tragic event.

On the night of June 25, 1996, a terrorist attack on the Khobar Towers in Dharan, Saudi Arabia, claimed the lives of 19 Airmen and injured over 400 U.S. and international military and civilian members. Of the fallen, 12 were members of the 33rd Fighter Wing, known as the Nomads.

Over 200 attendees, including members of the 33rd Fighter Wing and the local community, gathered to honor the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice 28 years ago. The memorial event included a guest speaker, a traditional wreath-laying ceremony, the recitation of names, and the solemn playing of “Taps.”

During the ceremony, 19 current Airmen from the 33rd Fighter Wing were chosen to represent the fallen. Each Airman delivered the name of one of the fallen members and rendered a salute, a poignant tribute to their predecessors.

“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, commander of the 33rd Fighter Wing. “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 Col. Skalicky’s remarks, Zach Sutton, a survivor of the attack and the guest speaker for the ceremony, shared his enduring struggles. Now a pastor at Catalyst Church of Panama City, Sutton spoke of the physical and emotional scars that remain with survivors.

“I was 23 years old when I showed up in 1996 to Khobar Towers,” Sutton said. “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 memorial’s center. An inscription on the monument 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 28th anniversary of the Khobar Towers bombing serves as a somber reminder of the sacrifices made by those in service and the enduring impact of that tragic night.

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