Texas Sniper 1966

From Robert Schwenk in response to e-mail on “school survival:
Interesting thoughts… as a veteran of the Texas Sniper, I can relate to the concept of “…instant chaos can happen instantaneously and end almost as abruptly…”.  That day in Austin 1966 was just before I joined the Navy and I was on the U of Texas campus and about 200 yards from the base of the tower.  I actually parked my car on a street running directly to the base of the tower.  Got out and causally walked up the street about fifty yards to the student health center.  I was completely oblivious to the shooting sounds and was more preoccupied with the excuse I would give my girlfriend for being about an hour late in picking her up after her shift was over.  When I got to the corner of the building I was surprised to see a couple of students yelling at me to run!!!  Only then did I hear several “tuft” sounds in the grass nearby and realize someone     was shooting at me just as the students were warning me.  For some reason that marine expert rifleman missed me.  In less than a second, my calm world was now a life and death survival episode.  Strangely, I did not feel the panic those around me were exhibiting.  Rather, I volunteered to go up on the health center roof with an off duty state trooper with his deer rifle.  I used his binoculars to try and call his shots as the sniper popped up for another shot.  I saw the sniper multiple times but he was very quick to take cover after firing a shot.  Then quite suddenly it was over and quiet on the campus.
Later, I reflected that I was really pretty calm under the circumstances. Later as a Naval Aviator, I remember always practicing my emergency procedures over and over again in my mind while in the air.  That habit came helped me in a couple of “situations”.  As a nation, our leadership at one time had school children “duck and cover” in practice for an all out nuclear attack.  I don’t think many of our “baby boomers” became unstable because to the emergency exercises.  And we certainly did not have “trauma teams” come in to the classroom to counsel us on our feelings.  I can imagine the outcry of today’s parental protests if we were to ever try that again.  The frontier toughness was part of our history, and I fear is just that: part of our history…. not our current culture.  I guess as I write this I must still feel the trauma of that day, for the scene is very clear and vivid to me some many years latter.
You are right on.  The trauma of the Texas Sniper was felt by the students for a long, long time.   And the bad guys know that….
Bob S.

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