Disturbing Details About Timothy McVeigh's Time In The Military

Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people and injured more than 500 in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombings. At the time, this was the largest terrorist attack on U.S. soil, surpassing the death toll of the 1920 Wall Street bombing that killed 39 (via JSTOR). While that earlier attack had likely been the work of anarchists, McVeigh, along with co-conspirator Terry Nichols, was a right-wing extremist with a pro-militia bent, according to CNN. McVeigh was executed by lethal injection in 2001.

McVeigh and Nichols met in the Army, where McVeigh in particular was a standout marksman who eventually earned the rank of sergeant. McVeigh served in the Persian Gulf War, was awarded the Bronze Star, and was even invited to try out for the elite Green Berets. He later served in the National Guard. Throughout it all, he was known as a talented soldier, but his fellow servicemen found aspects of his behavior disturbing, according to Fox News.

'Everything we did he excelled at'

McVeigh was obsessed with survivalist and anti-government culture starting from the age of 14, a neighbor told Fox News. After graduating high school, he enrolled in and then dropped out of computer school, and later enlisted in the Army.

McVeigh, along with friend and recruit platoon leader Terry Nichols, were considered attentive, hard-working soldiers. "He was the best soldier I met when I was in the Army — by far," one soldier who served alongside McVeigh told CNN. "Everything we did he excelled at. He was the best always."

But his dark side was immediately apparent. McVeigh never dated or talked about women other than his sister. He bought 10 acres of land in upstate New York and told fellow soldiers that he planned to use it as a bunker. He also was known as a racist — at one point, a biography of McVeigh claimed (via CNN), he joined the KKK, though he did not renew his membership, because he thought they were too focused on race over second amendment rights.

Oddly, though, in an interview with his biographers, McVeigh said that it was his fellow soldiers that were too violent. "Twenty times a day, it would be, 'Blood makes the grass grow! Kill! Kill! Kill!' You would be screaming that until your throat was raw," he said, according to CNN. "If somebody put a video camera on that, they would think it was a bunch of sickos."