In times of tragedy, there are 2 types of people. The first group, which is made up the majority of the population, are the people who run away in an attempt to save themselves. The second type is the brave minority who run toward the danger.
On April 19, 1995, the United States was rocked by the deadliest terrorist attack on American Soil. In the midst of all the chaos, 1 local officer was brave enough to run towards the explosion to try and save as many lives as possible. He’s still scarred by the carnage he witnessed, but it was all worth it when he saw the impact his actions had on 1 life 20 years later…
A Typical Wednesday Morning
On the morning of April 19, 1995, Officer Don Hull was arriving for work at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma like he did every other morning. Unlike most other mornings, however, he was running just a few minutes late.
At 9:02 a.m., Don normally would have been inside the building by that time. But on that Wednesday morning, Don hadn’t made it inside yet since he was still parking his car a few blocks away from the Murrah Federal Building at 9:02 in the morning…
Just before Don was about to step out of his car, he heard an explosion and felt a blast that was so powerful it felt like an earthquake. Instead of running in the opposite direction of the blast to save himself, Don jumped out of his car and ran straight to the source of the impact.
A Selfless Reaction
As Don ran towards the Murrah Federal Building, he had no idea what was going on but knew that he had to help anyone injured if he could. When he ran the few blocks and turned the corner to the building, however, he was horrified at what he did and didn’t see…
A Horrifying Sight
When Don arrived just seconds after the blast, he saw a third of the Murrah Federal Building was completely gone. Instead, there was a massive gaping hole in the 9-story building. The road was littered with shattered glass, rubble from the explosion was everywhere, and bloodied survivors were screaming out for help.
Don and the rest of the Oklahoma City natives couldn’t imagine how or why so many innocent people were targeted that day, but they would soon find out that they were the victims of a domestic terrorist attack perpetrated by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols…
The pair met in 1988 when they were roommates during basic training for the U.S. Army at Fort Benning. Over time, they realized they both shared a dislike for the federal government and were angry about botched FBI raids and standoffs at Ruby Ridge and the Waco siege where they believed extremists and fundamentalists were targeted by the government. In retaliation, Nichols and McVeigh decided to bomb the Murrah Federal Building.
The duo stuffed a rental Ryder truck full with 4,800 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, nitromethane, and diesel fuel mixture. They parked the truck on the north side of the federal building, detonated the bomb, and drove off in a getaway car as the bomb exploded at 9:02 that morning…
The blast was as strong as if more than 5,000 pounds of TNT had been detonated, and seismometers recorded the blast was as strong as a 3.0 magnitude earthquake. The bomb was so strong that 324 other buildings within a 16-block radius were destroyed.
86 cars were burned or destroyed in the blast and, ultimately, about $652 million worth of damage was recorded. However, damage to property was the least of the first responders’ worries that morning. After the bomb detonated, 168 people, including children at a daycare inside the building, were killed and 680 more were injured…
A First Responder
When Officer Don Hull ran up to what was left of the Murrah Federal Building, he frantically began helping as many injured survivors stumbling out onto the road from the wreckage. After a few minutes, Don started digging through the rubble and pulling out bodies.
An Unforgettable Morning
For Don, the gruesome images of all the victims are forever seared in his brain. “I remember a lot – most of it I’d like to forget. You have to understand, I had a history there. I was assigned to DEA for several years. It’s personal. It’s very personal to me,” Don said…
Digging Through The Debris
At 1 point, Don was digging through about a foot of rubble when he discovered the bloody body of a 1-year-old baby boy. He wasn’t moving or making any noise so Don wasn’t sure if he was already dead, but he refused to leave him buried like that.
A Miraculous Moment
After Don managed to dig through 1 foot of debris, he carefully picked the baby up and cradled the lifeless body in his arms. “As I picked him up, I don’t know whether it was just the movement, shock or whatever, he started to cry,” Don said about the baby, Joseph Webber…
Shielding The Family
Don held Joseph close to his chest to put pressure on the wounds so he wouldn’t bleed out, as well as keep Joseph’s parents from seeing the extent of his injuries. “I remember turning my back to the Webbers on purpose because I didn’t want her to see him this way,” Don said.
The Life He Saved
“I mean, I pretty much assumed that he wasn’t going to make it,” Don said. Thanks to Don, however, Joseph did survive and the Webber family invited Don to the hospital to see the life he saved. Then, a year later, the family invited Don and his family to see how well Joseph was doing…
Trying To Move On
According to the family, Joseph made a full recovery and was only left with a scar on his face and arm. “I felt much better knowing that at least one that I brought out lived,” said Don. Over the years, Don tried to forget about everything he saw that day, but could never stop thinking about the baby he saved and wondered how his life turned out.
The Emotional Reunion
20 years later, however, Don finally got the closure he needed when he was reunited with Joseph, a 21-year-old student at Oklahoma State University, for the first time in decades. During the emotional meeting, they hugged and Don told him, “You were the only good the entire day…”
A New Understanding
For Joseph, the meeting was the first time he was able to feel connected to the attack and understand the gravity of his survival since he has no memory of what happened that day. “I’m still trying to take it in,” said Joseph during the reunion. “It’s cool – now that I actually realize the significance of the day.”
A Life-Long Connection
Now that Joseph and Don have reunited, they plan on staying in touch and Joseph even plans to attend Don’s retirement from the police. “It’s made me hopeful as well as grateful for the little things. Because you never know when even the little treasures can be taken away,” Joseph said. “The sense of purpose, the sense of awe that comes with this whole story, has just made me a more thoughtful, faithful and compassionate person.”