A Tribute to Alvin J Justes

Alvin Junior Justes was born in Lee County, Virginia on March 8, 1941 and was the son of Benjamin H. Justes. He left his home in Laurel County, Kentucky at the age of 19 and traveled to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He served in the US Army during the Vietnam War, between March 20 1967, when he was inducted into the Army, and March 19, 1969. After this, he made Oklahoma City his home and lived a short distance from the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. His last visit to Laurel County was when his father died on December 7, 1982. He was a frequent visitor to the coffee shop in the Federal Building and the Federal Employees Credit Union on the 3rd floor of the Federal Building. Alvin did not own a vehicle and traveled by city bus wherever he went. According to information attributed to his brother who lived in Kentucky, he was disabled as a result of breathing toxic fumes at a place he had worked in the past. He was described as a loner and a very gentle man. On April 19, 1995, he paid a visit to the coffee shop and then the Federal Employees Credit Union in the Alfred P. Murrah Building. No one, including Alvin, could have suspected that Timothy McVeigh, assisted by Terry Nichols and Michael Fortier and Michael’s wife Lori, had placed a Ryder rental truck loaded with explosives made from ammonium nitrate fertilizer and diesel fuel in a parking space beside the Federal Building. When the bomb was detonated the morning of April 19, 1995, the resulting explosion crumbled all 9 stories of the north wall of the building. It was not until May 29, 1995 that the last 3 bodies were discovered. They were the bodies of Christy Rosas, Virginia Thompson, and Alvin Justes, as determined by the Oklahoma County Medical Examiner. Alvin’s sister, Violet Root, had been trying to reach her brother since she heard of the bombing on the 19th. She had eventually contacted the police, but had received no word until May 29. Altogether there were 168 people killed in the blast. Among those were 19 babies and young children who were in the America’s Kids Child Development Center (Day Care) on the second floor. An additional 680+ employees and visitors were injured by the bombing. Since the bombing, the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum has taken the place of Murrah Building, which was completely demolished. On June 11, 2001, Timothy McVeigh was executed by lethal injection at the Federal Corrections Complex at Terre Haute, Indiana. Terry Nichols is serving 161 consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole. Michael Fortier served only a few years of a 12 year sentence , and his wife never served any time at all. They are now in a witness protection program. Every year on the anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing there is a marathon run in OKC and many of the runners run for one of the victims. The photos I have included are of Alvin, a Teddy Bear and Marathon Tag left on Alvin’s chair in the Field of Chairs in 2007, and Alvin’s chair in the Field of Chairs. The Memorial has a chair for each of the 168 people who lost their lives on April 19, 1995.

 

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