AUSTIN, TX - 1 AUGUST 1966

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By: Wayne Brown


Texas Tower clock hands align, the noon hour about


From a tower perch above, the first shots ring out


A woman screams and falls bloody to the ground


Loud shots ring out again, more victims falling down




Who is shooting? Bewilderment and chaos abound


People running, seeking cover, bullets flying around


Victims lay bloody upon the ground life oozing away


Hell has come to Austin; rained down hard this day?




Dying people on the ground too far away to breach


Bullets zinging from above hold back a helpful reach


Death’s hand haunts those here in this noon day hour


Bullets quickly find their mark, coming from the Tower




A madman trapped in this life deals death from the ledge


One lost from respect and hope, his mind over the edge


His fantasy fulfilled as reality takes its bloody place


As his shots bring hell on earth to a tranquil campus space




Brave men make their way up the stairs of the Tower


The shooting has continued now for over an hour


Slowly and methodically they crawl to the killer’s nest


Praying to live to see tomorrow yet facing life’s test




Leaping around the building corner; pistols ablaze


They catch the madman un-alert; his gun out of phase


One last attempt to shoot as the killer spins around


Two blasts from a shotgun and the killer now is down




96 minutes of firing from this high tower sniper nest


14 dead, 32 wounded, shot through back, head, and chest


Life’s bloody essence marks red the surface of the ground


Death’s hand touches people; a relieved chaos still abounds




Thank God for the heroes; real men with nerves of steel


It seems we always need them; guess we always will


Men willing to risk their lives to stop such tragic deeds


Men of courage with the pure determination to succeed




Charles Whitman’s made history on this bloody day


Not with the honor history can afford passing on its way


Still his murderous actions and intent, a model defined


That to this day haunts the minds of sick men of his kind






©Copyright WBrown2012. All Rights Reserved.


30 July 2012


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Comments 11 comments

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

1966.....The year I graduated from High School....and at first I thought I'd not recalled this at all......but then after a few minutes, I did......vaguely. This tells me that my ability to block out horror and outrageous vilolence is/was fairly strong.

How seriously unfortunate there have been many since then, to take it's place....until one day, we are in such overload and burdened by these atrocities, we have no choice but to remember. UP+++


FitnezzJim profile image

FitnezzJim 4 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

This poem captures the essence of the tragic event. And the full article yuo wrote about it is awesome also. Up until now my only exposure to the event was the Harry Chapin song 'Sniper'. Sad sad sad.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

Such vivid words bringing back the horror of that day, so long ago. Excellent writing. In Hs Love, Faith Reaper


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 4 years ago from Texas Author

@fpherj48...I remember it but not like I remembered the Kennedy Assassination in '63. I never knew the whole story so this was an enlightening journey for me as well. This was tragic but the fact that a 25 year old man cried out for help and dropped through the net was tragic as well. Thanks much! WB

@FitnezzJim...Yes, it was sad and once you hear the chronology of events...it becomes sadder. For me, thos story paints all that is wrong...even today. Thanks for the good words, Jim. WB

@Faith Reaper...Can you imagine being there in the choas and seeing the death before your eyes? I felt a sense of helplessness in just writing the two pieces. Thanks much! WB


CMerritt profile image

CMerritt 4 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

I just googled Whitman and read more about him. It is sad, how these kind of stories continue to happen. Innocent people die because of anothers inability to cope with issues.

Very well done, as always, Wayne.


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 4 years ago

You have an amazing talent for being able to express yourself in so many ways. Up and awesome, Wayne.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 4 years ago from Texas Author

@CMerritt....I have another piece on here called "Tower Fantasy" about the mass killing in Austin. Just wondering where you have been, Chris and "bang" you pop right up. Good to see ya! Thanks much! WB

@breakfastpop....Well, if it helps, when I go fishing, I never catch anything! LOL! Thanks Poppy! WB


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

Voted up and awesome. I was but 9 when this happened so I do not recollect but will look up the details. Since then too much of the same has happened and it just goes to show that people have not learned anything about guns and madmen.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 4 years ago from Texas Author

@Gypsy Rose Lee...You can learn more about this incident from my hub "Tower Fantasy". This tragedy set the stage and basically started the ball rolling on these mass killing episodes. Unfortunately, this young man knew that he was in trouble but could not seem to get any help though he tried. Thanks much. WB


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 4 years ago from Arizona

Wayne, exceptional capture here. I remember it well, the early blame was on the violence of the Marine Corps and what they taught us to do. They emphasized the point he was a "sharpshooter" that made him one step above a "Toilet seat" the name given to a "Marksman" who was considered an embarrassment to wear a square medal imprinted with a target. Those guys got hell, the sharpshooters a bit as well, I scored "Expert" the best you could get a score of 240 out of 250. I actually did it 18 times, as orders would show up at the squadron for some one or maybe two show up to the range at 4 am in Pendleton and fire the course from 100 to 500 yards. If I was stateside I took every chance that nobody wanted I'd step up because I got up at 0230 was bussed from the Armory where we drew our weapons and was done shooting at 0930 and on the bus back and turned in our rifles by 1100 the first day and was off to go to town or the NCO club and drink beer. The second day of qualifying we had to clean the rifles and oil them for storage so it was probably noon, so drinking beer and shooting things was my entertainment and shooting things still is, I kinda dropped the beer except for campfire lying sessions in the cold months when folks come to town to beat the cold winters in Nebraska and the like. Too much info to get one thing said:

They blamed the Marine Corps, over the years to follow if something happened even a one on one killing in a bar fight, if the winner was a Marine they made a big deal out of the fact he was a Marine and had a cache of guns in his home. This is where this story started and the Corps didn't like it and made a general order that all guns that we owned while in the Corps were to be stored at the arsenal on base, and we had to check them in and out. I lived off base but the order remained in place for me as well. I did disobey that order, but even as a PTSD effected Marine after my first tour and subsequent 2.5 tours, and the greeting that waited us, as we disembarked jets in Frisco we were ordered to wear civilian clothes to keep the individual contact to a minimum, there were 50 to 60 of 130 passengers military, I can't speak for the rest but I was pissed off as the majority I know/knew were and out of that sampling we didn't climb towers and go off, to this day there remains a lot of Vets still pissed off, but few if any are now named as killer do to Vet. status.

I'm glad you wrote these two pieces of literature bringing to light the majority of facts that surround this incidence.

You mentioned a movie on my other comment and I don't know when it came out but the last movie I ever watched was in 1994 and it was Pulp Fiction, I thought it was a comedy and laughed at the crude humor that was in it and people thought I was crazy, but if you look at it for what it was, it was a comedy extraordinaire, in my opinion, since it wasn't real the whole thing could be broken into segments of comedy.

At any rate I tried to watch a movie called "Apocalypse Now" and the dolby surround of thumping Hueys that filled the room was all I could stand and I hit the door, I've watched two war movies, Das Boat and Code Talkers, I can't sit through any of the movies that effectively take me back to visuals and sounds that are quite authentic, never got to see Forrest Gump past getting the DVD and letting it run on mute until the opening was complete and that ruined it because I had to have somebody tell me what the theme was.

All that said, I now understand that there was way more to the story than what was given back in 66. I've held an interest in this and you skillfully opened it back up and there are 5 part videos on the youtube to broaden the horizon of events and some that were Marine based like his trying to get his boy-scouts to stand on their heads boots on the wall and do push ups, that was a Marine thing we did in basic.

The guy was damaged goods and let every one who was involved know and just like today I think for the most part people don't try to understand or stop to help each other when they see something wrong, that said, I believe the right person or people could have stopped this event by observation and either getting involved or getting someone equipped with the right skills to take a look at him and befriend him and talk him down along with getting tests done to Identify that He had a tumor growing and pressing on his brain. I know we were quite backward back in that era compared to now when it comes to tests and treatments.

I've run away here with thoughts but I'll blame you for doing such a fine job on this topic that it spurred a look with the new Encyclopedia Internet that has a wealth of knowledge to be learned on much

I Thank You for sharing your knowledge and the talent you have,

May the Blessings Be,

dust


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 4 years ago from Texas Author

@50 Caliber....You hit the nail on the head, Dusty...nothing but damaged goods. I wonder how many nights his father sat and questioned his own actions in this tragedy that evolved. Thanks much, WB

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