Honoring Fallen Law Enforcement and Friends
April 19, 1995, 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing
NLPOA life time member
Shortly, the 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing will be upon us. On April 19, 1995, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was brought down by a domestic terrorist's bomb. One hundred and sixty eight men, women and children lost their lives. Eleven of the dead were my co-workers. Three of them - Lucio Aleman, Jerry Parker, and Johnny Allen Wade - were more than just acquaintances; they were my friends.
I recruited Lucio from Texas A&I University. Right before his death, he had expressed an interest in transferring to work with me. Although an engineer, and a very good one, Lucio loved the people aspects of his work. He would have made a great contribution to my office, using his engineering talent to help those we serve. He had two children and a wife.
In the process of working with Jerry Parker, I came to admire and respect him. He never gave up in his quest to get people to do what was right. Although amenable to compromise, he would not compromise his principles or his ethics. Some who worked with him may not have liked his approach, but all who knew him respected him. You could count on Jerry to be there when the chips were down.
Johnny Wade was an engineer's engineer. When the problem or issue got tough, they went to Johnny. He was the eternal optimist always seeing the glass half-full rather than half-empty. He moved, often by his overwhelmingly optimistic personality others to keep on trying. Having a bad day? Just go visit Johnny! One minute in the presence of his ever optimistic smile and calmness would brighten your bad day.
All three, Lucio, Jerry and Johnny made things happen; they motivated people to do what is right by their positive approach to life and its challenges. I attended their funerals. It is unfortunate to say, but a lot of times you don't really learn what a person meant to those around him or her until the person is gone. I knew a lot about these individuals as a result of my working with them. But I learned a whole lot more about them after they passed, all good. All had been quietly involved in making a difference in the lives of those in their community, from drug addicts to the homeless. Few if any of their friends or co-workers knew about it. And that is the way they wanted it. They did good things voluntarily to help others not to seek accolades or attention for themselves.
As I was going through the list of those killed in the building, I could not help but share with you the opportunity to learn more about those that perished. So if you care to take the time to do so, you may see each victim's photo and a short narrative about them at the following link:
If you wish, take the time to visit the rest of the website. And if you are ever in Oklahoma City, take the time to visit the memorial in the downtown area. It is a sobering experience and a place of peace and reflection.
My co-worker, Hector Negron and I were scheduled to be in the building that week for the entire week. A last minute scheduling conflict on the part of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation staff caused us to re-schedule the visit. Instead we went to Austin, Texas. We were in a meeting with the Texas DOT's Executive Director when his secretary interrupted our meeting to tell us that a bomb had gone off in the Oklahoma City Federal Building. That was all she said. It was not until a few hours later, as we were driving back to Fort Worth, that we realized the extent of the bombing. Most of the building had been brought down! Those that perished were buried under tons of rubble and debris and would be identified over the course of many days. It was the saddest period of my 36 years of federal service.
All who perished seemed modest people. Yet most seemed to have left this place in a better shape than when they arrived. They made a difference in the lives of many. The sadder tragedy is that the innocent children who died will never see their potential. They remain unfinished stories of what could have been.
I ask you take the time to honor the fallen. They were our brothers and sisters.
Humberto R. Martinez
History of Humberto R. Martinez
Humberto Martinez (NLPOA life time member) who at the time of the bombing was Associate Director for Professional Development assigned to the headquarters office of the Federal Highway Administration in Washington D.C. but worked out of Ft. Worth, Texas. He also served as Regional Director of the Office of Civil Rights, which included the states of Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.