NAVARRE, Fla. (AP) - A firefighter who works for a U.S. defense
contractor in Saudi Arabia says returning to the Florida Panhandle
for his junior college graduation probably saved him from a
Willy Velez, an assistant fire chief for Vinnell Corp., said he
has seen pictures of severe damage to his villa in Riyadh from the
He said he is unsure about returning after Monday's attack that
left 34 people dead, including eight Americans and nine suicide
All but one of the Americans worked for Vinnell, which has been
training the Saudi national guard.
"From the photos there, ah, it doesn't look like I would have
survived," Velez said.
Velez took leave for his May 6 graduation from Pensacola Junior
College, where he earned an associate's degree in fire science
He has been in contact with Greg Johnson, another former
Okaloosa County firefighter working for Vinnell, who survived the
attack and helped in rescue efforts. Both worked at Eskan Village,
an Army base near Riyadh.
Looking at the photographs, Velez nodded in disbelief.
"Can I imagine the destruction? Yes. I've entered burning
(homes) and been through two hurricanes, Opal and Erin. It's part
of the job," Velez said. "Can I imagine being in that bedroom
during the explosion? No."
Velez's two-year contract expires in November. He said he took
the job because it pays well.
Johnson sent an e-mail indicating as many as half of the eight
Vinnell firefighters are leaving because of the attack. Velez's
wife does not want him to return.
"She was very shaken when she saw the picture of the villa,"
he said. "She said `I thought you were going to be safe there.' "
Information from: Northwest Florida Daily News,
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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05-19-2003, 04:00 AM #1
Contract FF escapes terror bombingProudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
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05-19-2003, 07:27 AM #2
I scooped you on this one buddy....LOL....Already posted the story on Firefighters Discussing War Thread!09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.
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