Let’s Talk Clovis: Gold Star Hero Captain Leland “Tim” Haun, USAF

USAF Capt. Leland “Tim” Haum of Clovis, was killed in the bombing of the Khobar Towers in east Saudi Arabia on June 25, 1996. (Clovis Museum)

We are sharing the life of Captain Tim Haun (1963-1996) to honor him and his family. It will also remind us to remember the Clovis Gold Star Heroes who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect our precious democracy. 

Tim was born in Fresno to Leland and Carol Haun. The family moved to their Clovis home on East Teague soon after his birth. He attended Dry Creek School and graduated from Clovis West High School in 1981.  He was commissioned a second lieutenant upon graduating from Fresno State University, Fresno in 1988. He received a degree in Art and a second degree in Industrial Arts.

Capt. Haun was a handsome man and a talented artist. His Aunt Marianna Haun (former Clovis Independent photographer) recalled that his love of art was accompanied with a sense of humor.  During an art class, Tim was required to paint a reclining nude. He chose a nude chicken for his model.

In a Clovis Independent (7-3-96) article his aunt stated: “When he was young, it was trains, and then it was cars. He was a tinkerer. He’d take things apart, but they didn’t always get put back together.”

She also remembered: “He was always a military man. As a kid, he had his WWII helmet he wore everywhere. It fell in Huntington Lake, he was 8, and he cried for hours.”

Tim was assigned to the 45th Space Wing, 71st Rescue Squadron, Rescue HC-130 as navigator. The HC-130 is an extended range search/rescue and combat aircraft that has low level/tactical flight patterns. He was based at Patrick AFB, Florida.

Haun was one of the nineteen airmen killed on June 25, 1996, by a terrorist attack on the Khobar Towers (housing for foreign military personnel) billet in eastern Saudi Arabia. An additional 498 persons were injured.

The terrorists converted a large gas tanker truck into a bomb by placing approximately 5,000 pounds of explosive plastic that would be as destructive as 20,000 to 30,000 pounds of TNT.

The terrorist bomb created a large crater, 85 feet wide and 35 feet deep. Sea water from the Persian Gulf (less than one mile from the sight) would partially fill the crater. 

Hezbollah (out of Iran) was believed to be the perpetrators of this horrendous attack. Tim’s family has not heard from the FBI for some time. Carol stated: “So much time has past and with the Afghan and Iraqi wars happening since then I can understand why there isn’t much action re: Khobar anymore. So many other young lives lost since then.”

Air Force Staff Sergeant Alfredo Guerrero had recognized the truck as a threat and alerted security. He immediately began a floor-by-floor evacuation of the building. His actions saved many lives. He was awarded the Airman’s Medal, the US Air Force highest peacetime award for valor. Captain Haun was crushed by rubble as he tried to leave the tower.

Leland and Carol flew to Florida to be with Tim’s wife Jenny for a Memorial service there. President Clinton attended the memorial Jenny would receive love letters from Tim days after his death. He was planning to build a large house that would include his artistic touches. He had planned to take her to Peru.

Tim’s sister Lauri Haun-Jones recognized the tragedy was not a combat zone. She sent a message to the terrorists: “I want them to understand he was a human being not something to blow up.” 

We will continue to honor our Gold Star heroes, our brave veterans and our courageous military men and women.

Peg Bos is the president of the Clovis Museum on 4th and Pollasky avenues in Old Town Clovis. She not only manages the museum but she also writes her Let's Talk Clovis column in our publication which features and highlight the amazing history of our city and culture. One fun fact about Peg Bos, she was the first female mayor of Clovis from 1984-86.