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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 406-96
June 29, 1996

AIR FORCE CLARIFIES STATUS OF DHAHRAN ATTACK VICTIMS (FINAL RELEASE ON IDENTITY CONFIRMATION)

The Department of the Air Force today announced the identity of the last unidentified airman killed in the Dhahran terrorist attack and updated the status of the last airman whose duty status was previously listed as unknown. The deceased is Airman 1st Class Christopher B. Lester, hometown Pineville, W.Va. He was assigned to the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The status of Senior Airman Paul A. Blais, assigned to Patrick Air Force Base, Fla, has been updated from unknown to very seriously injured. Blais is currently hospitalized in King Faisal University Hospital in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

The Air Force confirmed the identity of Lester at approximately 8 p.m.(EDT), Friday. Originally, Lester was believed to be hospitalized in very serious condition. At the time of Blais' admittance to the hospital he was listed as John Doe. Members of Lester's unit later incorrectly identified Blais as Lester and based on this, that identity was used. Lester's next-of-kin was notified he was alive and listed as very seriously injured.

At the same time, through a process where unit commanders account for their people, a list of eight names was compiled of people unaccounted for. They were officially listed as duty status unknown. Blais was listed as one of these eight airman and his next-of-kin was notified of his status.

The Air Force sincerely regrets all hardship and pain caused to both families.

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