Hard to believe it’s been 20 years since the bombing of the Murrah Federal building. Randy Norfleet, Capt USMC is a friend of mine and asked me if I could help him write this. It was an honor to help a brother out.
Stand by the Gap
They say that recruiting duty is a war on a different front, how true that statement became on April 19th, 1995 when the Murrah Federal building was attacked by an anti-government terrorist. The events of that day are carried with me daily and for years, when small shards of glass would work their way out of my body from the blast and mentally as I purged the devastation in my minds eye.
I had just attended a local prayer breakfast with a friend and needed to stop by my headquarters to check on some packages that I had submitted earlier and visit with the command group. Pulling up to the front of the building, I noticed an empty spot in front of a large yellow Ryder moving van with a young military looking man getting out. My first thought was how lucky I was to get this spot which drifted to thinking that maybe this was a new member of our unit checking in. He took off before I could say anything, so I hurried into the building not knowing that a delay anywhere in the equation would spell death as the bomb timer ticked down to zero.
The lobby was not crowded for a Wednesday and with a waiting elevator door open, I went straight up to the sixth floor where our Recruiting Station was located. Entering the office spaces, there sat Sgt. Davis at his desk next to the front of the building, a sharp Marine applying for our Officer program. His face lit up and he asked if I had heard any word on his package sitting in Quantico which was only a phone call away.
The Operations officer’s desk was free so I picked up the phone to ring MCRC. Capt Randy Guzman the XO, was walking by and detoured in to say hello. As I heard the busy tone on the line, the phone rang and I answered., it was for the XO.
We both walked around opposite sides of the desk where he sat down in the seat I had just vacated. I moved to the entrance to the S-4 office only feet away from the desk to say hi to those guys when the explosion blew the front of the building inwards.. My instant reaction was to raise my arm to cover my face as the windows exploded towards us with Hurricane force. The blast blew me into the West wall and the concession was so intense! Soon my world faded from gray to black. I felt nothing.
Waking up was surreal, I could feel the cool outside breeze against my skin and I felt wet. It was hard to see because of the dust of the collapsing floors but the strangest thing was hearing the birds in the trees outside start up again, it was that quiet. I had a large shard of glass protruding from my right eye and as it turned out, two major arteries cut that were producing massive amounts of blood flooding down my uniform and on the floor beneath me.
Sgt. Tad Snidecor and Gunny Bussell moved into action, their Marine Combat training kicked into overdrive especially with Sgt Snidecor who cleared off a desk, placing me gently down as he started to treat my wounds. He secured bandages around my head and I remember hearing the two of them talking. First reaction to the explosion was that perhaps a gas main had ruptured; little did I know I was the only person alive who could put Tim McVeigh at the truck that morning.
Because of the blood loss, I wanted to get outside fast before the rest of the building collapsed. I had the feeling that if I stayed, I would die. Moving off the desk, to my left I saw the gap where Sgt. Davis and Captain Guzman had been only moments before. Sgt. Tad Snidecor and Gunny Bussell helped me to an emergency exit through the mangled mess and using the limited vision from my left eye, I followed the bright red blood trail that someone else had already left down the stairwell where I eventually made it to help and eight hours of intense surgery.
Although twenty years ago, the gut wrenching earthquakes still attack me when I close my eyes and think of that fateful day in April.