Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Bombing of Khobar Towers

"We're Very Grateful to Him"

In the summer of 1996, the 4404th Wing moved their base to Al Kharj where the desert provided a wide and unobstructed perimeter.  Airmen were housed in tents there.

Defense Secretary Cohen
Defense Secretary Cohen

An exhaustive Air Force investigation into the state of security at Khobar Towers before the bombing concluded that General Schwailer, his staff, and his superiors had taken "reasonable and prudent" action to protect the compound.  Secretary of Defense William Cohen ordered second evaluation, which again found no fault with Schwailer's administration of his duties at Khobar.  Nevertheless, in July 1997, Secretary Cohen blocked Schwailer's promotion to major general.  Later that same day, Schwailer resigned from the Air Force.  Air Force Chief of Staff Ronald R. Fogleman submitted his resignation a few days later.

Senior Airman Eric Castor, Senior Airman Richard Dupree, and Sergeant Harold Jautakis all managed to survive the explosion and escape from Building 131.  As for Staff Sergeant Alfredo Guerrero he will be remembered as the hero of Khobar Towers for recognizing the threat and acting immediately to warn the compound.  In the waterfall evacuation, he had reached the seventh floor when the bomb went off.  Battered and bleeding, he made his way out of the building.  His injuries, however, were serious enough to put him in the hospital.

"He's pretty banged up and has cuts," General Kurt Anderson, commander of the joint task force, told the New York Times after visiting Guerrero in the hospital, "but he's fine."

Sergeant Guerrero was awarded the Airman's Medal, America's highest award for valor during peacetime.

The families, loved ones, and fellow servicemen of the 19 victims of the Khobar Towers bombing keep their memory alive.  They are:

Captain Christopher Adams, rescue HC-130 pilot

Technical Sergeant Daniel B. Cafourek, dedicated crew chief

Sergeant Millard D. Campbell, assistant NCOIC operations resource management

Senior Airman Earl R. Cartrette, Jr., support section technician

Technical Sergeant Patrick P. Fennig, flight expeditor

Captain Leland Haun, rescue HC-130 navigator

Master Sergeant Michael G. Heiser, communications system operator

Staff Sergeant Kevin Johnson, rescue HC-130 aircraft flight engineer

Sergeant Ronald King, contracting specialist

Master Sergeant Kendall K. Kitson, production superintendent

Airman 1st Class Christopher Lester, civil-engineering specialist

Airman 1st Class Brent E. Marthaler, assistant dedicated crew chief

Airman 1st Class Brian W. McVeigh, assistant dedicated crew chief

Airman 1st Class Peter J. Morgera, end-of-runway crew member

Senior Airman Jeremy A. Taylor, jet engine technician

Technical Sergeant Thanh V. Nguyen, gold flag manager

Airman 1st Class Joseph E. Rimkus, weapons load crew member

Airman 1st Class Justin Wood, rescue HC-130 loadmaster

Airman 1st Class Joshua E. Woody, weapons load crew member.

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