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April 19, 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing

Yes, It was 16 years ago today we lost 168 lives in the Oklahoma City Bombing. The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was bombed at 9:02 am by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols in downtown Oklahoma; at the time this was the worst act of terrorism on US soil.

This is another one of those “you remember where you were when it happened” moments.  I was in college.  I didn’t have television so I went to my first class of the day not knowing what had happened.  However, I do remember everyone coming into class talking about it and showing me the news papers that were already out with pictures on the front.  I couldn’t believe it had happened, this of course, was before  September 11,2001 changed all of our lives and how we live those lives day to day.  The only other event I remembered that clearly was the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion.

Luckily McVeigh was caught and punished.  He was stopped however for something menial, not having a license plate on his car.

Within 90 minutes of the explosion, Timothy McVeigh was stopped by Oklahoma State Trooper Charlie Hanger for driving without a license plate and arrested for unlawfully carrying a weapon.

There were a couple of incidence that set McVeigh off.   One was the 1993 Branch Davidian Standoff with the FBI and ATF in Waco.  Then there was also the 1992 Ruby Ridge standoff in Idaho of white supremacist Randy Weaver with the FBI.  This lead McVeigh on his anti-government rage that led to the Oklahoma bombing.

Pool/Liaison/getty images

On April 17, 1995, McVeigh rented a Ryder truck and then McVeigh and Nichols loaded the Ryder truck with approximately 5,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer. On the morning of April 19th, McVeigh drove the Ryder truck to the Murrah Federal Building, lit the bomb’s fuse, parked in front of the building, left the keys inside the truck and locked the door, then walked across the parking lot to an alley, then started to jog.

McVeigh had a little help with this plan from Terry Nichols.  He too had some anti-government

Larry W. Smith/Getty Images

sentiments held in common with McVeigh.  The two met at Fort Benning in Georgia where they were in  basic training together.  They were later stationed together at Fort Riley in Kansas.  They kept in touch and eventually went into business together selling military surplus.

In June 1997 McVeigh was convicted on conspiracy and murder, in August of that year he was sentenced to death by lethal injection.  He was executed June 11, 2001.

Nichols, for his part, was found guilty in 1997 and sentenced to life in prison June of 1998.

There was a third person, Michael Fortier, who know of the plan by McVeigh and Nichols but didn’t alert the authorities.  He testified against both McVeigh and Nichols and was sentenced to 12 years prison and fined $200,000.

In 2000 the Oklahoma National Memorial and Museum was opened to honor those who lost their lives in the bombing.  The memorial grounds include a field of empty chairs, one for each of the 168 victims.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

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