LETTER TO THE EDITOR: A horror in memory

The anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995 brought back a flood of memories for me.

For thirteen years, I served as a public relations consultant for US Cellular with the responsibility of leading efforts designed to underscore that organization’s commitment to being a national company with a local flavor.

From the day in 1985 when US Cellular established wireless service in eastern Oklahoma, reaching out to help in times of need became his passion.

From a program designed to provide traffic advisories to drivers during rush hour to free calls anywhere in the world to service personnel on Veterans Day, the company has quickly established itself as a community resource..

As part of this initiative, it has established a loan phone program to help news media personnel cover breaking news stories.

Never was the importance of this program more dramatically demonstrated than on April 19, 1995, when a truck bomb exploded outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people and injuring hundreds.

Before the infamous attack on the Twin Towers in New York City, this was the worst terrorist attack ever to take place on American soil.

It wasn’t long before the news media approached US Cellular asking (begging might be a better term) to borrow as many cell phones as possible.

It took just a few minutes for market manager Russell Williams to distribute his entire inventory of loaner phones – along with some new ones when it became clear that demand for them far exceeded the loan supply.

All were put to good use as reporters kept the public informed of what had just taken place.

This gesture did not go unrewarded. After the dust settled, the media publicly thanked the state’s first wireless telephone company for using this equipment and paying for the airtime used.

A television reporter noted on air that “it would have been impossible for us to do what we needed to do without the support and partnership of this excellent Tulsa company.”

Today, I am still shocked by the horrors that occurred that day, but I will always be proud of the company’s commitment to being there when needed.

– Robert Lewis, Broken Arrow