Dr Brent H Babcock’s Experiences of
Oklahoma City’s Bombing | April 19, 1995
It was a beautiful Spring morning with clear blue skies and fresh air. I had made a list of things to do that Wednesday and one of the trips was to the Social Security Office to obtain my son’s social security number. I had a busy day scheduled here at my clinic. At times, I go to the post office with a friend of mine to mail letters and to pick up the mail. On that day, I didn’t because I had a patient scheduled at 9:00 AM.
As I was sitting at my desk, I heard and felt an explosion like I have never in my life. I said to my staff, “That wasn’t good.” I have been in tornados, earthquakes, hurricanes and other disasters. I knew in my heart that whatever that noise was, it had to be terrible. I went outside of the building and looking downtown, I saw a huge cloud of smoke. My first thought was a plane had crashed into a tall building. A few minutes later, I received a phone call. “Dr. Babcock, there has been an explosion and the front of our building is damage. There is smoke everywhere and it is killing us.” That was the executive director of Parent’s Assistance Center. I was the president of the board and I could hear women screaming in the background. I told her to get out of the building as soon as possible. Two minutes later, I received another phone call from her. She was crying and screaming. “Dr. Babcock, it is worse out in the street. There are people all over that have been hurt. The smoke is terrible.” I instructed her to get back in the building and stay calm. I asked if she wanted me to come down and she said that it would be difficult to reach her because of the damage. This building was 2 blocks from the site of the bomb. The news of the federal building being bombed reached me. My friend that went to the post office told me that he was a few blocks away when the blast occurred. It was so strong that he hit the back of his head on the back window of his truck.
After work, I went down to the site to help with boarding up the windows due to the damaged Parent’s Assistance Center. The traffic was terrible and there were thousands of people crying, praying and pleading for help. The weather had changed. It was dark, cloudy and raining. I was able to get around the area with my connections and was able to help. The federal building is where I was planning to be to obtain my son’s social security number. I usually was in the area, too, to exercise at the downtown YMCA. While traveling home, I called my children to visit with them. I cried as I heard each of their voices. Life would never be the same in OKC.
Thursday, my day off, I went to the bombing scene to get my pass to start treating people. They did a FBI check and other background checks on me before I was able to get in to work. I went to the YMCA which was across the street from the federal building. I got in to see the terrible damage done to that building. There was glass all over and walls that had collapsed. The two story brick wall in the gym was down. If anyone were playing basketball or watching at the time of the bombing there could have been killed. As I entered the men’s locker room, my heart stopped. There were clothes all over the room. It appeared as if the men just ran out as fast as they could leaving everything behind. Some clothes were still wet. I found my locker and removed my clothes. Upon leaving, I saw a few close friends that worked there. The look in their eyes was so sad. I hugged them and just cried. Walking the streets that morning, was full of more tears. The smell was terrible. The blood on the streets was hard on my soul. I went to the Southwestern Bell Telephone building to meet with the volunteers. I treated many firefighters, FBI & ATF agents and others. My main goal was to help support them in their job and to remain as positive as possible. So many of them were from out of state and were so pleased as to the great welcome they received.
Each night after working at the clinic and on the weekends, I would go downtown to assist in treating the workers. Some nights were long and busy. Some nights were quiet and so sad. As I would wait for workers, I would read some of the thousands of cards and letters that would come in each day. We called the post office were I was stationed, MASH. I had clothes everywhere for the workers to use. Little Caesars Pizza set up a oven in front of the building. There was pepperoni pizza cooking 24 hours a day. It was the only type they cooked. There was food everywhere else. After a few weeks, the horror of what happened and why diminished.
As I reflect on the tragedy of eight years ago, my heart still aches for the lives that were lost. The little children that were killed causes me to remember the toys that I saw in the street. I cradled a tricycle that was so twisted and destroyed from the explosion. The sadness of children that lost parents and parents that lost their children. Oklahoma showed the world that it can heal and move on from such a sad experience.