The date was June 25, 1996 and I was on my third tour of duty in three years in support of Operation Southern Watch in Saudi Arabia.  I had been in country for just a few days and wasn’t scheduled to leave until early September.  After finishing work on evening I was riding in the bus around the perimeter and saw an old fuel truck parked next to one of the dorms.  I remember thinking, “that would be a good place for someone to plant a bomb.”  I went to my room that was on the other side of the compound from building 131.  There was a person watching TV in the day room and I sat down to join him. Our unit had maintained a presence at Khobar since 1994 and through the many deployments we had grown pretty close. I was sitting on a couch that just happened to be directly facing the rear of building 131 through a sliding glass door.  The other person was sitting in at a 90 degree angle from me and directly facing the TV.  We talked and complained about the lack of movie choices on the TV.  After about an hour I decided to go to bed.  My room was actually directly behind where I was sitting.  I was lying in bed and reading my Bible when it happened. At first I thought someone slammed my door for some reason.  When I got up I saw the door was blown off the hinges and there was glass everywhere.  I remember it being completely silent for what seemed like an hour but was probably no more than five seconds.  Then the yelling and screaming started.  I put on my pants and boots and ran out of my room.  The first thing I saw was the person I left still sitting with his legs propped up.  His legs were cut pretty bad and he was just sitting there and not moving but wide awake.  I ran to him and shook him.  I asked him if he was OK and if he could hear me.  He snapped out of his fog and I told him to stay put while I checked on the others in our squadron. Suddenly two Airman came running into our suite.  They were in need of help.  Another Airman was shaving when the bomb went off and the glass from the mirror had cut him up pretty bad.  I told them to apply direct pressure to the arm wounds and get him to the hospital.  The hallway was filling up with scared and confused Airman.  Thankfully everyone else was in pretty good shape, just some minor cuts. Shortly we were directed to go outside and gather in the center of the compound.  My first thought was that we were making ourselves even more vulnerable and open to another attack.  At this point we still didn’t know if it was a car bomb, mortar, or Scud.  Rumors were flying as to what was going on.  An announcement came over the Giant Voice asking for people to help care for the wounded.   I remember seeing a very nervous Security Forces member wearing a helmet, boots, and boxer shorts holding an M-16. About that time our Maintenance Superintendent finally arrived.  He was the last person unaccounted for in my unit.  He had been at our work compound on the other side of the base when the bombing occurred.  By the time he got to our barracks it was empty. He had started looking to see if anyone was still in the building when he was met by Security Forces that ordered him to the ground at gun point.  Everyone was nervous and on edge and there were rumors that the compound had been breached.  The actions of the Security Forces members was definitely understandable.  Once the A1C had realized that he forced a Senior Master Sergeant to drop to the ground he was quick to apologize and help him up. This was no ordinary Senior Master Sergeant.  He was a former Marine with combat experience in Vietnam.  The A1C noticed a lot of blood coming from the old Marine’s leg and point that out to which the Senior said it was just a scratch.  I and the other squadron leadership listened to this old Marine’s story as he laughed about it.  He then asked if anyone had a Leatherman on them.  I handed him mine and he used it to pull about a 4-5 inch chunk of glass from his upper thigh.  He didn’t even squint as he pulled the glass out.  He wiped the blood on his pants and gave me back the Leatherman. It was probably around 1:00AM now and our Commander decided we needed to call home to let them know what happened and that we were fine.  He picked the two Captains and Staff Sergeant me to go to our work compound to make the call.  We drove over and started making phone calls.  I remember first calling my wife but didn’t get an answer.  I then called my parents and spoke to my Mom.  My only thoughts were that I needed to talk to my wife and let her know that I was safe.  I didn’t want her to hear about the bombing on the news (CNN International was already reporting it) and wonder if I was still alive. I remember hearing one of the Captains arguing with the Commander back home.  Once he hung up we got to hear the other side of the conversation.  He had been trying to tell the LtCol that we had been attacked but the LtCol only wanted to talk about how someone had received a STEP promotion.  The last thing the Captain said on the phone was, “Sir, I don’t give a d**n who got promoted.  We have dead Airman here.”  Even today I still have a hard time believing that conversation actually happened. Now our Commander made the decision to have everyone come to the work compound since we could not go back to our barracks.  I set up a triage and began looking over all of our troops.  I pulled out glass, cleaned wounds, stitched up a couple of wounds, and bandaged up others.  All of those Self-Aid and Buddy Care classes really came in handy.  We spent the rest of the night there and I don’t think anyone slept.  There wasn’t much talking going on either. In the morning we drove back to Khobar and saw the damage.  We weren’t allowed near building 131 (ground zero for the truck bomb) but could see it took a beating.  Our building was just hit with a shock wave but it knocked almost every door off of its hinges and knocked in a good number of the air conditioning units.  Most of the windows were gone also. As I walked into my suite the first think I saw was the couch I had been sitting on less than 30 minutes before the blast.  It had been shoved back about five feet up against the concrete interior wall that separated the day room from my room.  Right through the middle of the back of the couch was a piece of glass about three by four feet in size.  It had gone through the couch and was imbedded about three inches into that concrete wall.  If it wasn’t for a bad moving on the TV I would not be here today writing this.  I see the image of that pane of glass in the wall almost daily. The wounded were evacuated, we cleaned up, made repairs, and carried on.  I rotated back home in September.  It was a very long three months with the constant threat and fear of another attack.  When I got back home, Khobar Towers was already a distant memory for many people.  I was more likely to be asked “what is Khobar Towers” than anything else when the subject came up.  This is still very bothering to me today.  How quickly we can forget lives sacrificed. As the days turned into weeks we learned that the truck with the bomb had tried to come on base.  I know if it would have been allowed on it would have parking in front of my building.  The other building around mine housed Security Forces, the fire department, Communications, and other high value targets.  It was a no-brainer and again I probably wouldn’t be here to write this story. Through all of this was my wife, Shelly.  She was and is my reason for living.  In our short marriage we had been apart almost as much as we had been together.  Married in late 1991, a remote assignment to Osan from 1993-1994, and a total of 6 months deployed at this point in 1996.  We had spent a total of two anniversaries and two Christmas holidays together in almost 5 years.  Considering I spent my first five years in the Air Force trying to get orders to another base or deploy, I couldn’t find the humor in finally getting to “see the world” by having to leave my new bride behind. Unfortunately Khobar Towers was not my only brush with death.  Just four months after returning home I had a severe headache during M-16 refresher training.  I waited until late that night to ask my pregnant wife to take me to the emergency room at Langley AFB.  After a CAT scan I was transferred to Portsmouth Naval Hospital where I was diagnosed with a ruptured venous malformation (similar to a brain aneurism).  The doctor said that at best I should be a vegetable, if not dead.  Obviously God wasn’t done with me. Just a few weeks before this latest brush with death, we had been told that my wife had miscarried our first child.  The doctor in the Emergency Room keep saying, “it looks like the pregnancy aborted.”  I lost count of the number of times he said the word, “abort.”  I finally asked him to find another word to use as it obviously just increasing our distress in the situation.  About a week after that we learned that my wife did not lose the baby but it still could happen.  I believe I had a more difficult time dealing with this than my near-death experiences. Just a little over a year ago on the anniversary of the bombing I broke down and finally admitted that I was still living the events of that night over and over again.  I didn’t want to admit I had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  I saw myself as a mentally and emotionally strong man and PTSD is a sign of weakness, or so I thought.  I now understand the truth.  PTSD has nothing to do with toughness or manliness (Vogel-Scibilia, McNulty, Baxter, Miller, Dine & Frese, 2009).  I have good days and I have bad days as I struggle to deal with it.