Marking the Oklahoma City bombing’s 25th anniversary

6 Yukon residents perished in the April 19th tragedy

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In remembrance of the April 19th, 1995, bombing, the 9:03 Gate is part of the Outdoor Symbolic Memorial on the grounds of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. (Photo courtesy Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum)

By Carol Mowdy Bond

Contributing Writer

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.

At 9:02 a.m. Central Standard Time, on April 19, 1995, the nine-story Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, 620 N. Harvey Avenue in downtown Oklahoma City, exploded with terrifying force.

The Yukon City Council proclaimed 2020 as a “Year of Remembrance” because of Yukon residents who perished. The six residents who died in the explosion were:

CAROL LOUISE BOWERS

Carol Louise Bowers (Photo courtesy Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum)

An operations supervisor for the Social Security Administration, Carol Louise Bowers, age 53, was born in Chandler. Her husband Jerry operated B&B Plumbing in Yukon. Together they were active in the Corvette Association.

JOHN ALBERT BUDDY YOUNGBLOOD

John Albert Buddy Youngblood (Photo courtesy Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum)

A special agent for the Office of Motor Carriers in the Federal Highway Administration, John Albert Buddy Youngblood, 52, loved to hunt and fish. He had only worked in the Murrah Building since March 1st. As a reserve police officer, Youngblood had most recently served for the Yukon and El Reno police departments and the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Department. Youngblood was injured in the Murrah Building explosion due to smoke inhalation. And since April 19th, he and his wife Kathy had communicated with hand signals, lip reading, and written words. Of those who perished, Youngblood was the 168th person to die, when his lungs collapsed. He and his wife had celebrated their 21st wedding anniversary in January 1995. They had four daughters and a son.

LANNY LEE DAVID SCROGGINS

Lanny Lee David Scroggins (Photo courtesy Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum)

At the time of the blast, Lanny Lee David Scroggins, 46, was working at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Scroggins had been a federal employee for 23 years, working in several agencies in accounting and financial management positions. He was a decorated Vietnam veteran who served in the First Air Cavalry. Scroggins and his wife Cheryl had two sons.

LARRY JAMES JONES

Larry James Jones (Photo courtesy Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum)

Larry James Jones, age 46, coached and managed several youth football and soccer teams in his spare time. He entered the Air Force at age 18, and his 20-year military career included service in Vietnam. Jones was a computer program specialist for the Federal Highway Administration, and a part-time University of Central Oklahoma professor.

MICHAEL GEORGE THOMPSON

Michael George Thompson (Photo courtesy Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum)

A Vietnam veteran, Michael George Thompson, age 47, was active in Boy Scouts, and he was a painter and musician. Thompson was employed at the Social Security Administration.

RICHARD A. ALLEN

Richard A. Allen (Photo courtesy Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum)

Formerly with the 65th Military Platoon in Utah, Richard A. Allen, age 46, was a claims representative who had worked for the Social Security Administration since 1973. In his college days, Allen played football for the Panhandle State University football team.

 

BACKGROUND

Prior to the bombing, the Murrah Building sprawled across an entire city block. About 550 employees worked in the building, and many of them were just beginning their workday on April 19th. The structure housed numerous federal agencies, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; the Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs and Agriculture departments; the Secret Service; and the Social Security Administration. So, there were also visitors in the building.

As well, the second floor housed a day-care center, where young children were playing. Most of their parents, federal employees, felt the safety and comfort of having their little ones close by.

APRIL 19th, 1995

The Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum honors those impacted by the April 19th, 1995, bombing. (Photo courtesy Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum)

With designs on committing mass murder, several men crafted a bomb, using a deadly combo of agricultural fertilizer, diesel fuel, and other chemicals. They packed it inside a Ryder rental truck.

The morning of April 19th, ex-Army soldier and security guard Timothy McVeigh parked the truck on the north side of the building. He exited the truck, locked the door, and headed for a getaway car. He ignited one timed fuse, then another, causing the building to explode at 9:02 a.m.

The bomb blew off the roof, and the entire north wall of the building, which included the business entrance. In front of the building, the blast created a crater 8-feet deep and 20-feet wide that filled with rubble. Also in front of the building, a two-story-high debris pile formed, and spilled all the way across the street into a parking lot.

One third of the building was reduced to rubble, and numerous floors pancaked on top of each other. Dozens of cars were incinerated. Cars across the street from the building were still on fire an hour after the blast. The surrounding area looked like a war zone.

HUD workers had just begun taking computer-training classes in the center of the building, when the blast occurred. They were sitting at their computers, and then knocked to the floor. The wall caved in, and the workers began screaming and racing toward the stairwells.

People, who were driving on the street, endured terrifying experiences when the blast literally blew their cars down the street.

A psychologist, working about 20 blocks from the building, felt the windows shake before hearing the blast. In nearby buildings, people dodged as glass blew out the windows.

Legislators, who were in session at the Oklahoma State Capitol Building almost three miles away, watched plaster rain down from the ceiling, signaling that something serious was happening.

THE AFTERMATH

Local first responders hit the scene full force. Meanwhile, emergency crews reacted from across the U.S., quickly arriving, and plunging in to help.

When rescue efforts finished two weeks later, the death toll was 168, including 19 young children who were in the day care center. More than 650 people were injured, but some survived with serious injuries. The blast also damaged or destroyed 347 buildings in the area.

In 2001, Timothy McVeigh was executed for his crimes. His co-conspirator Terry Nichols, also a former U.S. Army soldier, was sentenced to life in prison.

WE WILL NEVER FORGET

On the grounds of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, the Field of Empty Chairs represents those who died on April 19th, 1995. (Photo courtesy Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum)

What remained of the Murrah Building was razed. As part of the U.S. National Park Service, the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum was established October 9, 1997, on the building site. Located at 620 N. Harvey Avenue, the memorial and museum honor the victims, survivors, rescuers, and all who were affected by the bombing.

Considered sacred soil, the Outdoor Symbolic Memorial includes the Field of Empty Chairs, the Reflecting Pool, the Rescuers’ Orchard, the Gates of Time, the Survivor Wall, the Survivor Tree, and more.

The Gates of Time include the 9:01 Gate, symbolizing the last minute of innocence for the U.S. in regards to domestic terrorism. The 9:03 Gate symbolizes the moment healing began.

The Field of Empty Chairs is arranged in nine rows representing the building’s nine floors. Each of the 168 stone and glass chairs bears the name of a person who perished in the bombing, including workers, visitors, and several who were not in the building. The 19 smaller chairs represent the children who lost their lives.

Although temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the site hosts 350,000 visitors annually. Rated as one of the U.S. top 25 museums, its normal operating hours are Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Admission fees, and holiday closure dates, are listed on the web site okcnm.org.

Until the September 11, 2001, World Trade Center attacks, the Oklahoma City bombing was the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil.