Retired Brig. Gen. Terryl J. Schwalier, scapegoated for the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing, has been waging a major behind-the-scenes effort to clear his name. The story has many twists and turns, and is not yet over. Over the past four and a half years, Schwalier and senior USAF leaders have worked to restore the second star blocked by then-Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen. An independent Air Force review board ruled Cohen’s action “null and void,” ordering promotion of Schwalier on the retired list. This move, however, was opposed by Pentagon lawyers, who raised legal questions and trumped the Air Force. Schwalier is analyzing other means to force a reconsideration of his case. The terrorist attack against the Air Force’s 4404th Wing (Provisional) killed 19 airmen and wounded hundreds more. Schwalier was the only person punished. (Read “The Second Sacking of Terryl Schwalier.“)
The Air Force will begin its 71st annual Operation Christmas Drop on Dec. 4. The weeklong exercise is a yearly tradition that delivers supplies such as food, fishing equipment, school books, and clothes to remote islands in the Pacific. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian mission.