Tulsa First Responders Recall Devastation Of Oklahoma City Bombing 26 Years Later

Monday, April 19th 2021, 9:46 pm
By: Kristen Weaver


First responders from all over Green Country were some of the first people on scene at the Oklahoma City bombing 26 years ago. 

"We watched it unfold and everybody is wanting to go help," said Tulsa Fire District Chief Pete Matlock.

Matlock shared pictures from his time sorting through the wreckage in downtown Oklahoma City. He was sent to help a few days after the bombing.

"Seeing a building like that was so ominous, it was something I had never seen before," Matlock said.

Matlock describes almost every waking hour of the four days he spent there in what he calls an "ant train."

"You would hand it to somebody, they would hand it down," he said.

He said at that point, his mission was focused on body recovery, not rescue.

Matlock remembers vivid details, like the smell of Little Caesar's cinnamon rolls, that employees made for the rescuers even though the bombing destroyed most of the restaurant.

"They set up these tents and took care of us," said Matlock.

Retired Corporal Steve Wood said he also remembers the kindness and love shown to first responders and how moving it was.

"There would be hordes of people that would applaud you," Wood said.

Wood was sent to Oklahoma City just minutes after the bombing, with bomb dogs and a robot.

He ended up staying there for two months, sleeping in hotels, to sift through every single piece of rubble, 12 hours a day.

"Looking for evidence, human remains, whatever it was," Wood said. "It was that way for six to eight weeks."

Both men said they were honored to be a part of helping during one of the nation's worst tragedies.

"I'm proud I could go down there and be a part of that," Matlock said.

Wood said that shared experience created a strong bond between the first responders, and he'll always cherish some of the friendships he made.