OKC Bombing Victim’s Father Coped with Loss by Helping 9/11 Families

OKC Bombing Victim’s Father Coped with Loss by Helping 9/11 Families

A twilight view of Oklahoma City, including the National Memorial & Museum. (Photo courtesy of Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum)

On 9/11, Oklahoma City resident Paul Howell knew that he wanted to get to New York. While others around the country were determined to bring their skills to the rescue and recovery at Ground Zero, Howell’s goal was to help the relatives of those whose loved ones were missing or believed dead at the World Trade Center.

Six and a half years earlier, Howell’s youngest daughter, Karan Shepherd, had been killed in the April 19, 1995 terrorist bombing in OKC. It had taken Howell a few years to acknowledge he needed help in coping with the loss of his daughter and he wanted to come to the aid of those grieving in the aftermath of the national tragedy.

He would get a chance when an American Red Cross representative reached out to him on Sept. 28 about traveling to New York. He was asked to help support victims’ relatives at the family assistance center at Pier 94 on Hudson River.

When he arrived the following day, he was assigned to accompany 9/11 family members as they were transported downtown by ferry.

In an oral history he recorded with the 9/11 Memorial Museum several years before his death on March 11, Howell described his commitment to help and recalled his own feelings in the days following the Oklahoma City bombing.


Friday, April 19 marks the 18th anniversary of the OKC bombing. Learn more about what happened on that tragic day.

By Amy Weinstein, 9/11 Memorial Senior Oral Historian