Convicted Oklahoma City Bomber
(CNN) -- Timothy McVeigh was born April 23, 1968 in Pendleton, New York, and grew up in that rural commuity near Buffalo, Niagara and Canada. He was the middle of three children, and the only boy.
His father worked at a nearby General Motors manufacturing plant; his mother worked for a travel agency. His parents separated for a third and final time in 1984.
High school classmates remember him as small, thin and quiet. He became involved in school functions -- football, track, extra-curricular activities -- but after joining them, soon dropped out. He was shy, did not have a girlfriend and did not date. He did not belong to any clique, but seemed to exist on the margins.
McVeigh graduated from high school in June, 1986 and in the fall, entered a two-year business college. He attended only a short time. During that time McVeigh lived at home with his father, worked at a Burger King and drove dilapidated, old cars.
In 1987 he got a pistol permit from Niagara County and a job in Buffalo as a guard on an armored car. A co-worker recalls that McVeigh owned numerous firearms and had a survivalist philosophy -- a tendency to stockpile weapons and food in preparation for what he believed to be the imminent breakdown of society. In 1988 McVeigh and a friend bought 10 acres of rural land and used it as a shooting range.
McVeigh enlisted in the Army in Buffalo in May 1988, and went through basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia. After basic training, his unit was transferred to Fort Riley, Kansas, and became part of the Army's 1st Infantry Division.
McVeigh became a gunner on a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. He was promoted to corporal, sergeant, then platoon leader. Fellow soldiers recalled that McVeigh was very interested in military stuff, kept his own personal collection of firearms and constantly cleaned and maintained them. Other soldiers went into town to look for entertainment or companionship but McVeigh stayed on base and cleaned his guns. During his time in the Army, he also read and recommended to others "The Turner Diaries,"-- a racist, anti-Semitic novel about a soldier in an underground army. A former roommate said that McVeigh would panic at the prospect of the government taking away peoples' guns, but that he was not a racist and was basically indifferent to racial matters.
While at Fort Riley, McVeigh reenlisted in the Army. He aspired to be a member of the Special Forces and in 1990 was accepted into a 3-week school to assess his potential for joining that elite unit. He had barely begun to prepare himself physically for Special Forces training when, in January 1991, the 1st Infantry Division was sent to participate in the Persian Gulf War. As a gunnery sergeant, McVeigh was in action during late February, 1991. Pursuing his desire of joining the Special Forces, he left the Persian Gulf theater early and went to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where he took a battery of IQ, personality and aptitude tests to qualify for Special Forces. However, his participation in the Persian Gulf War had left him no time to prepare himself physically for the demands of Special Forces training. McVeigh was unable to endure a 90-minute march with a 45-pound pack, and he withdrew from the program after two days.
This disappointing experience left him facing years of active service due to his reenlistment at Fort Riley. The Army was downsizing however, and after 3 1/2 years of service, McVeigh took the offer of an early discharge and got out of the military in the fall of 1991.
By January 1992, at age 24, McVeigh was back where he had started, living with his father in Pendleton, New York, driving an old car and working as a security guard.
In January 1993 McVeigh left Pendleton, and began to travel, moving himself and his belongings about in a series of battered old cars. He lived in cheap motels and trailer parks, but also stayed with two Army buddies, Michael Fortier in Kingman, Arizona, and Terry Nichols in Decker, Michigan.
McVeigh traveled to Waco, Texas during the March-April 1993 standoff between the Branch Davidians and federal agents, and was said to have been angry about what he saw. He sold firearms at a gun show in Arizona and was heard to remark on one weapon's ability to shoot down an ATF helicopter.
Although both Arizona and Michigan are host to militant anti-tax, anti-government, survivalist and racist groups, there is no evidence that he ever belonged to any extremist groups. He advertised to sell a weapon in what is described as a virulently anti-Semitic publication. After renting a Ryder truck that has been linked to the Oklahoma City bombing, McVeigh telephoned a religious community that preaches white supremacy, but no one there can remember knowing him or talking to him. His only known affiliations are as a registered Republican in his New York days, and as a member of the National Rifle Association while he was in the Army.
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