I am working on my autobiography today and hit a story that I wanted to share with you here.
April 19th 1995 is a date I will never forget. That was the day of the Oklahoma City bombing. There are several reasons I will never forget that day and the first one is Kartney Koch-McCraven.
Kartney worked up stairs from us in the building we shared with their work center. Kartney lived in the dorms at the opposite side from me. I used to ride with Kartney to work. Kartney was one of the sweetest women I ever knew. The air changed when she walked in the room. It just felt better.
The weekend before the bombing Kartney married Shane. Shane I met in tech school just before I left. We both got sent to the 22nd Combat Communications Squadron. When it closed we both got sent to the 32nd Combat Communications Squadron. If he was Jack Lemmon, I was Walter Mathau in this odd couple. We tried to be friends, however we never could figure it out. Shane was a good guy, he just came from another world. He had been raised by Marines and still wasn’t overly happy about being in the Air Force. That said, if you had Shane on your crew, you never had to worry about him dropping the ball and he might end up covering your ass.
They got married the weekend before the bombing and based on what they found of Kartney, she was walking right by the truck when it blew. She had gone down to change over her social security card to her married name.
I had married my first wife 12 days earlier on the 7th of April.
I was home on leave when it happened.
My first wife worked on base and still had to go to work while I was taking two weeks off. I was being sent to Panama in May and wanted to have a couple weeks with my wife before I left. I was stunned that day when I turned on the TV while my wife took a shower. I called into the base to see if I was being pulled off leave. I was told the base was on lockdown and to stay home.
A few of the guys in my shop knew Kartney was heading down there and headed downtown to try and find her. During the course of the search for survivor the 3rd Combat Communications Group provided tents and cots for the workers and aided in security.
At the memorial service for Kartney the day before I left for Panama there was nowhere left to even stand. Not only did we fill all 1,000 seats there were hundreds more standing. It’s been more than 22 years. It took 15 for me to not notice when April 19th was coming on the calendar.
Can we take day off from all the violence around the world for one day please and thank you.