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Return to the Charles A. Thomas Papers (KSU May 4 Collection)


Blood of Isaac
an e-book by Charles A. Thomas






        And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son.   And he said, Behold the fire,     And the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?

 -- Genesis, Chapter 22.




            As with any who have borne the battle, the Guardsmen were not as ready to cheer the results as were civilian “patriots”.   They were ordinary, many of them decent men.    Many of them had volunteered for the Guard so they would not have to face the mindless slaughter of Vietnam.   Their most visible casualty was Sgt Dennis Breckenridge, who collapsed and had to be taken away in an ambulance.   Although grimacing in agony and clutching his chest, he had not been wounded, but had collapsed with “hypertension”.[560]    Another Guardsman, hearing of the fatalities, thought, “No!   They were just wounded, not killed; please, not killed.”[561]   Captain Raymon Srp observed that his jeep driver was so distraught that he couldn’t unload his .45 automatic pistol.   The man admitted he had fired it, but over the heads of the students.   “Capt. Srp was not sure that he, in fact, had fired over the crowd and not into it.”   He added that many of his men “wanted to throw their weapons away, and some felt like they had to vomit.”[562]

            A shaken General Canterbury told Lt. Alexander Stevenson to interview each man to find out who had fired where.   But many of the men Stevenson talked to were fighting too hard for self-control, some on the verge of weeping.   “It was like swallowing dry lumps,” he said of their inability to speak, “I thought the men could not take [me] asking these questions.”[563]   Weeping freely, Private Raymond Silvey stepped out of ranks, threw down his rifle, and “declared I wasn’t about to take part in any killing.”[564]   But not all the Guardsmen reacted that way.   Chaplain Simons was also tasked to find out who had shot where.  “The first man I asked said he had fired, and in response to my ‘up or down’ question, he replied, ‘Right down the gulley’.” (2, 24, 35b)     In a subsequent statement, Simons added that “the man making the statement gave him the impression that he did it and was glad.” (2, 34, 248 {supplemental statement, 7/30/70]).



            If some of the Guardsmen were in shock, the students and teachers had been shattered.   At first, they had not believed that the soldiers would be firing live rounds under those circumstances; the universal assumption that they were blanks or “firecrackers”, even on the part of those who went to ground.    They had to hear the bullets buzzing through the air, or see them kick up dirt, slam into the tree by Taylor Hall, shatter car windows, puncture car fenders and doors.   “A girl was screaming, ‘They’re not using blanks!   They’re not using blanks!’…   We heard a girl crying hysterically.   ‘Get an ambulance, get an ambulance’ others were shouting.”[565]    Half-consciously, Steve Titchenal switched on his tape recorder again.   For long minutes, it picked up nothing but students screaming for ambulances, choking on tear gas, weeping, or shouting “You fuckers!” or “You mother-fuckers!” at the Guard.   In the midst of it all, one male muttered darkly, “You get guns now.   You don’t throw rocks against guns.   Titchenal wandered over to a knot of students standing vigil over Jeff  Miller’s horribly mutilated corpse, and caught their numb commentary: “He was way out front”,  “ – no way – “, “They, they had a bead on him wherever he went.”[566]   Captain Ronald Snyder and a few men from Charlie Company, which had taken no part in the killings, approached the body.   Its guardians began screaming “Murderers!” and obscenities at them.   The soldiers withdrew, covering their retreat with leveled rifles and a plastic training grenade thrown into the air, which showered the group with fragments.

            High school student Ellen Mann had been standing a few feet from Joseph Lewis Jr. when he was hit.   She wound up holding his hand while he screamed, “Oh, God!’ and kept asking her how bad it was.   “He was all white and looked like he had a three-inch hole in his hip…   He had such a grip on my hands his knuckles were turning purple.   After the ambulance picked him up, she bolted for her car.


                        I was running and screaming with blood dripping from my hands, like a crazy woman.

           As I ran by, the Guardsmen were smiling.   One of them pointed a gun at me.   ‘Why don’t you shoot me, too?’ I yelled.   I told one he was sick and he wiped the smile off his face.[567]



            Robbie Stamps felt like someone had whacked his buttocks with a fraternity paddle.   But when he put his hand on the seat of his pants, it came away bloody.   “Brother, can you help me?” he asked another student.   Two of them assisted him to Dunbar Hall.    When the ambulances finally came, one of the EMTs came straight for him with a stretcher.   “Robby told them to use it for someone who needed it more.   Then he hobbled into the ambulance.”[568]

            Barbara Knapp, standing by Allison Krause when she was hit, knew she should help her, but ran away instead.   Marion Stroud, a graduate student, was one of the group that gathered around Allison.   “We tried to put enough scarves and handkerchiefs into the hole to stop the bleeding.   She was breathing a little but as we waited for the ambulance I saw her lips go white and her eyes glaze over, and I realized she wouldn’t make it either.”[569]

            Bobbi Moran had been pulled to the ground by a bearded student in a bloody shirt.   At first she assumed it was dye, part of some guerrilla theater performance.   When she dared to raise her eyes, all she could see was “classmates, dead and dying, wounded and terrified… over a range of 250 yards…one with his brains on the pavement.”   Like Barbara Knapp, she ran from the scene, so fast that her tears were “swept away by the speed of my flight.   Gaping homemakers and their children stared at me as I tore through their neat suburban streets.   I ran until I was so tired I fell down.   I wound up in some woods somewhere” before she lost consciousness.[570]

            Raw terror.   The scenario had worked.   Or had it?   Student Elizabeth Troshane ran, too , but – despite the frantic pleas of a friend – straight at the Guardsmen, who had returned to form a cordon around the ROTC ashes.   “I stopped 50 feet in front of the Guard.   I screamed at them and then collapsed.   I couldn’t stand up.   My friend Larry came over and put his arms around me and rocked me like a baby.”[571]   Sophomore Ron Arbaugh, a former Special Forces officer, was leaving class when he asked others why all the ambulances were crossing the campus.   When they told him, he dismissed what they said as a wild and tasteless practical joke.   “Then everybody started saying it and it sunk in.”   As it did, he passed a cordon of eight Guardsmen in cordon around the power plant.   “And I felt like tearing up the damn rope and grabbing the first guardsman I could find and beating the guy’s head in.   I knew I wasn’t going to do it but if a couple of others had tried, I might have gone across there with them.”[572]

            Arbaugh wasn’t the only one ready to attack the militiamen with his bare hands.   Philosophy professor Bob Dyal wandered in a daze down the hillside and found himself drawn by some kind of herd instinct to a group of students forming around the Victory Bell.   As he neared it, he could hear Glenn Frank and Steve Sharoff  pleading with its members – not trying to soothe their fears, but their mounting rage.   Some of them were working themselves into an unarmed attack on the Guard across the Commons.   Even as he argued back and forth with these would-be suicides, Sharoff was informed that Ralph Oaks, White’s legal advisor, wanted to speak with him.   Sharoff found him inside the Guard cordon around the ROTC Building.   Of the crowd at the Victory Bell, Oaks said, “Listen, Steve, they have got to move.”

            “Ralph, you can’t do that.   You can’t make them move, not after what they have just seen.”

            “The general said that they have to move.”

            Sharoff sought out Canterbury, who verified his demand.   “I have my orders,” the general added.

            Just like a B-movie Nazi, Sharoff thought with disgust.   “Is that all you are going to say?” he snapped.

            “That is all I can say,” Canterbury replied, “I have my orders and they have to move.”[573]

            Fighting off a rising sense of panic, Sharoff returned to the Bell.   By now Honors College Mike Lunine and psychology professor Seymour Barron had joined the attempt to head off the students’ kamikaze charge.   As some of them tried to shout him down, and others shouted them down, Sharoff harangued them until, on the Titchenal tape, his voice can be heard cracking:


You know that kids were shot and you know one’s dead for sure, okay?  [Unintelligible section]   I would tell all of you, myself included, without getting co-opted or anything; you want to strike, we’ll strike the fucking school.   But  I will tell you this: you want to lay your lives down, you can dig it, this is what’s happening – they’re going to kill you

Don’t go down there!   Don’t go down there, they’ll kill you.   Listen, I’ve been shot at before, will ya? for crying out loud, but at least I had something with me.   You’re unarmed.   You don’t want to go down there and just die.   There’re fucking kids among you, girls.



            To which Lunine added,



Please, don’t, don’t let anybody start you again in going across this campus.   We’ve had bloodshed; it’s been a terrible thing that’s happened here today.   This campus will never forget it.   But don’t, don’t, don’t start chasing across this field again.



            These speeches were made against background of random shouting and cursing.   At one point, the students chanted, “Pig!  Pig!  Pig!”   The next, they made an abortive effort to sing “We Shall Overcome.”   That suggested another gambit to Professor Barron:  “Martin Luther King would not have stayed.   Martin Luther King understood that to win you must live.”   An embittered coed shot back: “That’s why he’s dead!”   Finally Professor Frank stepped forward.   His voice was so choked he could hardly be understood, and yet everyone understood him.


I don’t care whether you’ve never listened to anyone before in your lives.   I am begging you right now, if you don’t disperse right now, they’re going to move in and it can only be a slaughter!   Would you please listen to me?   Jesus Christ! I don’t want to be a part of this!



            Frank’s breaking voice, tear-filled eyes, and pathetic gestures finally got through.   The students began to get up and walk away.   A few who refused were literally carried off by their friends.   Sharoff stayed behind to argue with the diehards.


SHAROFF: [Unintelligible] – fucking crowd and slaughter ‘em?   Is that what you want them to do?   You want ‘em to come in the crowd and slaughter five hundred kids, right?

                        STUDENT:   You think I fucking want that?

            SHAROFF:   No?   Then you shouldn’t be on the fucking hill!   Don’t you understand?   That general told me, ‘I have my orders.’   Just like an SS commander.   He doesn’t give a fuck if he wipes you out.   Okay?[574]



            Assured that the last of the students were going, the four faculty members dragged themselves off the hillside, completely drained.   The murders had evoked fear and rage, and they had had to cope with the rage, and had sampled its intensity.   But the scenario had to work, because the rage had nowhere to go.


[W]ere the demonstrators supposed to buy guns in turn?   At this point, logic dead-ended.   To the vast majority of movement people, resorting to guns was both unconscionable and tactically stupid.   So, helpless fury turned to spleen or withdrawal – and ultimately spleen was only the prologue to withdrawal.[575]



            Meanwhile the fear spread like a grassfire, already recalling that other terrifying day which had also meant the beginning of the end of America.   In the Administration Building, Leona Wright, the chief phone operator, saw the university’s Centrex system go dead.   “Dallas,” she thought, “Kennedy.”


At the ‘War Room’ at the gym, Robert E. Corbet, a WKNT radio man, head the ‘two dead’ and he telephoned United Press International in Columbus.   He thought the dead were Guardsmen.   So did the city desk of the Record-Courier in Ravenna and it would headline the false report in 7,000 editions.

Capt. Albert Sands… heard the report in the gym, too, and he responded exactly as did the chief telephone operator.

                        ‘Dallas’, he thought.[576]



            “A correspondent for campus radio station WSKU told his editor via walkie-talkie, ‘I’m coming back.   I’m sick… disgusted.’”[577]


            Tom Grace, a sizable chunk of his foot shot off, was loaded into an upper bunk in an ambulance.   He looked down to see Sandy Scheuer lying beneath him with her gaping neck wound.   Two EMTs ripped her blouse open and tried to give her a heart massage.   “I remember their saying that it was no use, she’s dead.   And then they just pulled the sheet over her head.”[578]   Robbie Stamps climbed into the same ambulance with the mutilated corpse of Jeff Miller, and Allison and Barry.   Allison was unconscious, but Stamps didn’t see much blood on her and assumed she would survive.   He was not so sure about the breakneck trip to the hospital.   The civilian vehicles they encountered yielded.   Not so the National Guard’s.   Stamps suspected the ONG knew that none of their own had been hurt.   On the way, Allison began to strangle on her own blood.   Barry pleaded with the ambulance attendants to help her.   The only response he got was a hate-filled stare at his long hair.



            Bob Dyal, still in a daze, wandered away from the Victory Bell, then suddenly remembered his wife, who worked in the Office of the Graduate College.   When he got there, he was “angered and confounded” to find her and the other employees huddled in the center of the office with the lights out – terrorized by the rumors being spread by WKNT of “student snipers”.   One in particular flashed across the campus almost before the echoes of the volley had faded, so quickly that it may have been planted before the fact.   People on the killing ground heard others talking about a girl, “possibly it may have been ALLISON KRAUSE”[579], having fired a revolver at the ONG “and when this girl turned around and tried to get away, she was shot in the back by a Guardsman”. (1, 3, 643)

            Fifteen minutes after the killings, the Guard command post logged a report: “Unconfirmed report of sniper on top of Student Union by campus police.”   Then, five minute later: “Campus police confirm sniper on top of Johnson Hall.”[580]   A KSU senior on top of Johnson Hall with a two-way radio heard the same report, but would tell the FBI “at no time while he was on the roof of Johnson Hall did he observe any individual or student with a firearm.” (1, 13, 1629)    But an hour after the shootings, the Guard radio was still reporting: “Snipers on rooftop”.

            At 1:35 p.m., Robert Raun, Special Agent in Charge of the Akron Resident Office of the Army’s 109th Military Intelligence Group, called the command post for clarification of who and how many had been killed.   The ONG could only tell him that there were no Guard fatalities.   Twenty minutes later, Raun entered the command post.   He would subsequently indicate that FBI and Secret Service agents were also present.   There is no indication as to why the latter agency, in view of its stated mission, would have agents on the scene. (2, 25, 314-315).



            By now General del Corso had arrived in Columbus.   He went straight into a meeting with Governor Rhodes and John McElroy.   Meanwhile Portage County prosecutor Ronald Kane had heard about the shootings on the radio and had been trying to reach Rhodes by phone.   He finally got through around three.   He told Rhodes he intended to shut Kent State down (precisely what he had wanted to do the day before).   McElroy replaced Rhodes on the phone and asked Kane he if weren’t overstepping his authority.   Kane said he would worry about that later.   “Someone in the background said something about martial law.”   Rhodes told Kane to wait an hour and he’d call him back.   He never did.[581]

            Whatever Kane intended, or his authority to do anything about it, was superfluous.   The Guard had shut Kent State down unilaterally.   Beginning at ten minutes after two, the soldiers rounded up twelve thousand students and herded them off campus with their luggage or without.   The town’s two thousand school children were sent home under police escort.   The stores closed.   A National Guard tank moved into position to bar the University gate.   “Don’t move around tonight,” a police officer cautioned, “They will probably shoot anything that moves.”[582]

            If panic shootings did not occur, it was not the fault of the rumor mill.   In a single hour, the Guard command post received reports of: “4 cars of male Negroes are headed for Kent”; a phantom black Mustang driven by a “white man with Afro style haircut.   Is suspected of being a past agitator”;  “SDS students and armed and wearing military uniforms.   This was confirmed by the FBI.   Possibility of trying to infiltrate the N.G. ranks”;  “a shot fired from the top of Johnson Bldg.”[583]    The wild tales would only become more lurid with the descent of darkness.



            Arthur Krause was called out of executive council at Westinghouse at 3:30 p.m. to take a call from his younger brother Jack in Cleveland.   Jack said that he had heard on the radio that Allison had been shot at Kent State.   Arthur’s frantic attempts to get through were stymied by the shutdown of the KSU switchboard, so he finally called the Kent City Police.   They told him that the story about shootings at the University were being “sent out by a bunch of radicals and that really only a couple of kids got hit in the leg and it wasn’t anything bad.”[584]   Meanwhile Allison’s fifteen-year-old sister Laurel had gotten home from school and immediately wondered why all the reporters were prowling around her neighborhood.   Finally one of them approached her uneasily and suggested she have her mother call Robinson Memorial Hospital about Allison.   Doris Krause told the unknown who picked up the phone there, “This is Mrs. Krause.   I understand you have my daughter there and I’d like to know her condition.”   The man replied brusquely, “Oh, yes – Mrs. Krause.   She was DOA [Dead on Arrival].”[585]

            But as the ambulance had pulled in to the parking lot at Robinson, one of the EMTs had pointed to Allison and said, “Grab this one.   She’s alive; she’s still breathing.”   Barry trailed after them until she disappeared into Robinson’s bowels, and wound up waiting in an outer office for an hour.   Finally a nurse emerged and said, “I’m sorry.   She was dead on arrival.”   He asked if he could see her.   The nurse told him to wait a little longer.   He waited for three hours, in the company of a state trooper who kept lowering at his long hair.   Finally the trooper asked, “Why are you waiting?”   Barry replied, “I’m waiting for permission to see my girl.”   The trooper asked the nurse, “He’s not going to be allowed in, is he?”   She did not answer directly, but he would not be.   The nurse finally lent him money for a plane ticket home to New York.[586]

            Arthur Krause, his wife, and daughter had to walk through a crowd of reporters, the women weeping freely, to get to their car for the trip to Ravenna and Robinson to claim Allison’s body.   On campus, her room had already been ransacked by a campus police officer and “two other men”. (1, 6, 44)    After a numb ride through Ohio, the Krauses left Laurel in the car and entered the dim hospital room where Allison had been left for identification.   “We went in and uncovered her face and shoulders.   She looked as though she were asleep.   I kissed her on the forehead and cried out in anguish.   My wife, who has more strength than I, held my arm.”[587]  

            Outside, forced to run a gauntlet of reporters and television cameras to their car, the father’s stoic mask finally cracked.   Tears poured down his cheeks as he answered questions.   His anguish-contorted face on the network news that evening would shake those highest in power (see below).   Doris Krause stated that when their daughter had called at half-past midnight that morning – to tell her mother she was stranded in Tri-Towers, but unharmed – she had again condemned the rowdiness and vandalism, but “This is the boys’ way of telling President Nixon they don’t want to go to Cambodia.”   “I don’t blame eighteen-year-olds for not wanting to go to Cambodia,” Doris Krause added, “Look, I had a daughter and now she’s dead.”[588]    It could happen here.



            According to Nixon’s Memoirs,  he was totally aware that anything had happened in Ohio at midday.   He was anxious to finalize his trip plans for the weekend and then turn his attention to the neglected domestic agenda (i.e., the shock of the stock market over the invasion of Cambodia).   He took an afternoon nap and then called Haldeman in to discuss travel plans.   He noticed that his chief of staff looked “agitated”.  

            “Something just came over the wires about a demonstration at Kent State,” Haldeman admitted, “The National Guard opened fire and some students were shot.”

            “Are they dead?” Nixon asked.

            “I’m afraid so,” Haldeman replied, “Nobody knows why it happened.”[589]

            In his published Diaries and unpublished journals, Haldeman paints the same picture of an undisturbed mid-afternoon, “very calm and undemanding.”   After discussing the trip and the day’s p.r. line on Cambodia, the President adjourned to the Executive Office Building for the rest of the day.   “A long session with Ehrlichman to get caught up on domestic.”   And then he had time for a nap, whether before or after a break for lunch.[590]    But that morning Nixon had made a phone call to Haldeman beginning at 10:15.   Haldeman almost never doodled on his ever-present legal pad.   He had made a few the previous day, when he was agitated and depressed by Nixon’s “pep talk” (on which he had made no notes).   Now, in the course of this Monday morning conversation, which lasted thirty minutes, the entire left margin is crowded with doodles.   That and the time elapsed suggested that many more things were discussed than he wanted to write even notes on.                                                                                                                                                                                                                 At two o’clock, Haldeman records that he is ordered to “keep P. filled in on Kent State.”[591]

            But in his journal, he repeats the assertion that he didn’t tell Nixon about Kent State until he went over to the EOB to discuss the trip plans at mid-afternoon.


He very disturbed.   Afraid his decision set it off…  then kept after me all day for more facts.   Hoping rioters had provoked the shooting – but no real evidence that they did – except throwing rocks at Natl Guard.  There’s opportunity in this crisis as all others – but its very hard to identify & know how to  handle it.   Main need now is to

            maintain calm & hope this serves to dampen other demonstrations rather than firing them up.[592]



            Secretary of Labor George Schultz watched the news in his departmental office with Satire.   The network ran the film of the shootings twice.   The first time, Shultz asked of the rattle of gunfire, “Did that sound like a salvo to you?”   After the rerun, the former answered his own question: “That was a salvo.”   “Schultz actually seemed groggy after the second running of the news film.”[593]   His reaction was preconditioned by a distraught phone call from his daughter.   Ehrlichman’s son and HEW Secretary Robert Finch had made similar calls to their sires.


A cabinet member felt a ‘cold chill’ when he heard the news from Kent State.   A White House staff member was so distraught that the color drained from his face.   Another White House aide fielded a call from a hysterical student, the friend of a friend, who sobbed into the phone between pleas for reassurance.[594]



            Whenever Nixon knew, there was dead silence from the White House press office until 5:30, when Ron Ziegler emerged to read the official administration reaction, its callous tone summarized in the first sentence: “This should remind us all once again that when dissent turns to violence, it invites tragedy.”[595]   Its pious, unfeeling tone was the clearest indication that Nixon “did not even faintly envision the emotional torrent that the Kent State incident would set off across the country.”[596]   Some of the younger White House employees “refused to believe that the president had seen the statement before it was issued, much less written it.”[597]

            Actually the President had dictated it to Haldeman much earlier in the afternoon:


                        every Am feels deepest sympathy for families of those who died in these [sic] incidents

            This should give added impetus to the efforts of resp. leaders in coll & U fac & stu. to stand firmly for princip & right of peaceful dissent & just as firmly against the resort to violence.

                        Violence can result only in tragedy.



            Then the president added something that did not find its way into the statement as released:  “The need now to mobilize Congress to stand up    don’t waffle under student riots    resist government by demonstrations – “   Beneath these entries, Haldeman began doodling again.[598]

            Ziegler seemed unhappy about having to defend the statement.   When a  reporter asked if the bloodshed in Ohio had not ultimately been caused by the invasion of Cambodia, he recited, “The president made it clear in his speech Thursday that the objective of the action along the Cambodia-South Vietnamese border is to bring a peaceful conclusion to the conflict in Vietnam.”   When another asked if the violence might have been triggered by the “bums’ remark, he didn’t reply at all.[599]    It is possible that there was some guilt within the White House about the role administration rhetoric had played in the killings.   But it was minimal, if it existed at all.   Many of the inner circle were “less shaken by the deaths themselves than by the specter of mushrooming protest” (i.e.,, Haldeman’s journal entries dreading “rumors…of a major march on DC on Sat” and – four days late – a student strike).   But Roger Morris “never saw anywhere in the government a particular human sensitivity to the loss of life”, and on this occasion, he “saw men sit around tables and strive mightily to avoid any kind of human reaction… as being unmanly.”[600]

            The major exception was surprising; few of Nixon’s aides were considered more macho than ex-Marine officer and new “dirty tricks” director Charles Colson.   “Chuck” was working late and dropped into the White House staff mess for an evening dinner.   He found the diners frozen like “a scene from a stop-action camera” by the images from Kent State on the huge color television screen.   Then the “sobbing, grief-stricken face [of] the father of Allison Krause” appeared, indicting none other than the president for his daughter’s murder.    The first reaction of ultra-loyalist Colson was how could Krause be so unfair?  “the President didn’t have anything to do with Allison’s death”.   And almost as quickly he thought,


Supposing it were my Emily?   I, too, would lash out at the leader of the government, the symbol of authority against which my daughter was  protesting.    Maybe I would do more.   Then the sickening thought crossed my mind that if his accusation was fair, even in part, then I too was responsible; I’d helped the President make the Cambodia decision.   For one awful instant, I felt that Mr. Krause was right in that room, that his tear-filled eyes were looking straight into mine, and I felt unclean.   I skipped dinner.[601]



For Colson the walk out of the White House mess began the long road to Watergate, prison, and the search for redemption.   None one else in the White House retinue would confront his own guilty so readily.   But none of them would escape it.

            If the President felt any guilt, or saw Kent State – whenever he learned of it – as anything but another p.r. problem, he gave no outward sign.   Nor, when he phoned Haldeman at six, did he give any indication that he had any idea how the official response had been received:



                        get our congl ldrs to take stand on student violence – protests in street

                        go back to Nov. 3 line   respect dissent but policy can’t be made this way    paraphrase Nov. 3 line

                        get some polls out re student violence   the Gallup etc.    get TV people on # NBC carried as NG gunned down   need to get out story of sniper


                        can’t we get something going – Mitchell all folds.



and, in the merest of commiseration for his cat’s-paw in the exercise, “this will finish Rhodes unless he turns this.”[602]

            That evening, the president’s chief “attack dog”, amplified on the administration’s real depth of sympathy for the victims and their families.   Speaking to the American Retail Federation, Vice President Agnew embellished his prepared text with a prelude that assessed the killings as “predictable and avoidable”.   He “called attention to the grave dangers which accompany the new politics of violence and confrontation which have found so much favor on our campuses”.   He then launched into his prepared address, a typical meat-axe assault on dissent as a “calculated, consistent, and well-publicized barrage of criticism against the principles of this nation”.   Prefiguring more official brutality due in four days, he singled out Mayor John Lindsay of New York City (who, “coincidentally”, was being discussed as a presidential contender for 1972), if not by name, then as typical of a politician who appealed to those “who believe that the people of America are ready to support revolution as long as it is done with a cultured voice and a handsome profile.”[603]



            In the posh bars and clubs along Wall Street, the nation’s financial elite gathered for a gloomy cocktail hour, even as those headed home for the Connecticut suburbs pulled long faces over their martinis in the club cars.   It was not that they were the least concerned about the tears shed by Arthur Krause or the blood shed by his daughter.    But the market was down.   It had been down since Nixon’s inauguration, but since the Cambodian invasion the angle of descent had increased.   The New York Stock Exchange opened that Monday morning in dread of the press conference scheduled by Soviet premier Kosygin.   When, at late morning, the Russian leader’s remarks proved more temperate than expected, prices  rallied, even returned to positive territory.   Shortly after noon, the text of a speech by Chou En-Lai of the People’s Republic of China hit the floor, “[p]rices started diving again”.   But the wiser analysts had expected violent rhetoric from “Red China” and the decline was restrained.   In another hour, the wire services had broken the news from Kent State.    The bottom dropped out of the market.   The trading day ended with the sharpest drop in prices since the assassination of President Kennedy.[604]   The more astute brokers had thought to weather “a predictable reaction from the radical and activist 5 per cent of the academic community” to the invasion.   But the killings in Ohio exploded the national student strike until it would involve “perhaps half of the total college population, students, faculty, and staff”.[605]    And in America, education was after all big business.



            Now the darkness was falling on Kent in the physical sense as well.   One of the “secret, black, and midnight hags” heralding the spiritual pall that would never lift from the town was the middle-aged matron encountered by ONG sergeant Mike Delaney.


                        ‘How are things going?’ she asked.

                        ‘Haven’t you heard?’

                        ‘Oh, yes.   How did it go?’

                        ‘Well, you know that four kids were killed up there today.’

                        She seemed pleased.  ‘Yes,’ she said, ‘You should have killed a hundred and fifty of them.   That would show the little bastards.’[606]



            As always, the actual combatants were not as bloodthirsty.   As they returned to their bivouac, one sergeant


Began to hear grumbling from Guardsmen concerning the shooting.   Many were terribly upset and disgusted because the students were shot.   Some said they were quitting the Guard, whether the Guard liked it or not.   Others said, ‘I’m getting the hell out of here now.’[607]



            While those who had been on the firing line had lost some of their thirst for action, the townspeople were spoiling for it.   In fact, its citizens were converting Kent into an armed camp.   At five, a curfew was declared “and roadblocks were set up around the town to prevent anyone from entering.”[608]   Just returning to town, Professor Lew Fried picked up two homeless hitchhikers from California, a fifteen-year-old girl and her father.   “We’re going to Kent,” she explained, “The screws said if I was in town before eight they’d let me stay.   Shit, I ain’t got no home at all.”   Driving them down Main Street, “watching the Guardsmen and the Patrol kneeling doorways, looking at them fondle their automatics and choke guns,” Fried would write, “I too had to say, I ain’t got no home.”[609]

            The murders gratified most of the townsfolk.   Even those who owed their livelihoods to the student population – whose stores would now stand empty, for whose campus-oriented businesses there would be “no chance for survival”[610] – defended the state of siege as a necessary bulwark against the “young radicals”.[611]   Middle America in minature, Kent would now slowly strangle on its own bile.


                        Dick Richards (Florist):  It’s a shame it had to take killing to do it, but all those kids were someplace they shouldn’t have been.

                        Tom Bohlander (Car Salesman):  My own gas station man said they should have shot 100 of them.

                        Harry Miller (Housepainter):  They got to keep law and order some way.   One thing they ought to do is, they ought to chase them all out if they

            don’t get their hair cut and cleaned up.[612]



            Bobbi Moran awakened somewhere deep in the woods.   The sun was sinking, bathing the glade in ruddy light.   She groped through the trees until she emerged into a clearing.


                        [S]omeone said, ‘HOLD IT right there, Poncohantas!’ (no doubt a reference to my braids).

                        Three guns were pointed at my head.

                        “Don’t shoot, please don’t shoot,” I pleaded, dropping piteously to my knees.

                        I had inadvertently walked smack into the guard’s makeshift armory at an elementary school.   An officer sprinted over and ordered the

            soldiers away.   He put his arm around me and led me to a curb where we sat down.   He had a gentle, sad, even fatherly face.   I collapsed with

            a great heaving sob into his arms.   He told me he had a daughter my age.



            The moment of compassion lasted until she got back into town (she had run six miles from the kill zone before collapsing).   As she cut across a lawn, a Kent housewife waved a broomstick at her and yelled, “Get out of my yard, you hippie.   They should have shot all of you.”[613]    She was still drawing breath, but the light-hearted Bobbi Moran who the night before had crawled around town pretending to be with the French Resistance had also died in the parking lot.



            A student driving over from a neighboring college to pick up friends forced to evacuated the KSU campus never made it past one of the roadblocks.   Because he was wearing his “knock around in” olive drab fatigues, the defenders arrested him for attempting to impersonate a Guardsman – although he wore no helmet (or military headgear of any other kind), no canteen belt, no insignia, no combat boots, and carried neither gas mask nor weapon of any kind.[614]   Perhaps the guardians believed he was a scout for the army of SDS disguised in military uniforms that was marching on Kent, according to – someone.   At 1750 hours (5:50 pm), this was modified to “the Weathermen faction” marching on the Ravenna Armory.   Ten minutes later this force had dwindled to “16 men, all armed”, and by six-thirty, three people “w/wpns” lurking in the woods near Wall School.[615]

            Just before the invaders were due to vanish altogether, the attention of the defense was diverted by a lead to the radical command post.   Someone had found a scrap of paper in Jeff Miller’s pocket with a phone number and the words “communications center” scrawled on it.   This was actually an apartment where students who had been arrested or feared they would be could call for advice on legal aid.   At seven o’clock, the six students in the living room heard the sound of shattering glass in the vestibule.   When Howard Katz went to investigate, he ran into fifteen policemen armed with rifles breaking in the door.   Five of them arrested Katz, while the others charged the living room and covered the other students with the rifles.   One of the police read a search warrant for “guns and ammunition, broadcasting equipment, and literature related to protest.[616]   Although the search produced nothing, the five students were arrested and held for sixteen hours until a judge admitted that someone couldn’t be arrested for violating a curfew who was sitting in his own living room.[617]   One of them, Gambian student Sidia Sagnia, was harassed by the FBI and the Highway Patrol, and threatened with deportation, for months afterward.

            Tim Butz had promptly realized that if his friend Allison could be shot to death for yelling at the Guard, he had better not wait around to find out what would happen to him for co-founding the WHORE, organizing the May Day noon rally, and burning his discharge papers.   He had almost made it to the city limits when he ran into another police roadblock, where the cops were handcuffing conservative student leader Craig Morgan to socialist Mike Alewitz.   Butz tried to sidle away, but they nailed him too.   As he was handcuffed to the other two,


I heard a car drive up and I look around and there’s five guys inside a station wagon, none of them in uniform, but all of them with rifles and shotguns.   One of them had an M-16…  I tried to see who the five men were, but the police jabbed me and said, ‘You three, don’t look at that.’  We turned our faces.[618]



            General del Corso had already called General Canterbury at Fort Hayes with the “latest info” on the “sniper”, who he alleged had fired on the Guard from “the roof of Johnson Hall, Silveroak [sic] Apts.”[619]   He called Alan Douglas’ popular Cleveland area radio talk show that same evening on the same subject.   Aside from claiming that the sniper had used a shotgun (not the sniper’s firearm of choice), he stated that the building fired from was “on city property” (i.e., across Main Street from the campus).   Douglas pointed out that the closest buildings on city land were 250 yards from the Commons and “only two stories high” – thus the sniper would have had to shoot through the hill topped by Hilltop Drive.   Del Corso subsided, muttering.[620]

            As late as eleven, the radical army was still bearing down on Kent, but the Guard was less sure of which way it was coming.   “200 Akron U. students on way to Kent on Rt. 261”.   “[C]rowd going out Massilon Rd. heading toward 2/107 Cav Akron Airport.”[621]   There actually were two hundred students on the road, many from Akron University.   They had gathered at the City-County Safety Building that evening and then marched to the Armory “where they dipped their hands in a grey plastic bucket “to wash our hands of the deadly violence at Kent State University”.   They discussed forming a convoy to make a pilgrimage to Kent, but Sheriff Robert Campbell advised them that Kent was shut down and they would not get past the city limits.  They retreated to the Gardner Student Center to discuss their next move.   There fraternity members started obscene heckling, to which the demonstrators made equally obscene retorts.   As darkness closed in, both sides drifted apart into the newly chilly night.[622]

            Thus was the invading army scattered.   But the people of Kent still waited through the blackness for its attack, hunkered down with their shotguns and hunting rifles, while police from all the society’s redundant jurisdictions and vigilantes roamed their streets, and helicopters played their searchlights over the unmoving fields.   Charlie Company guarded a treeline behind a chain link fence near Taylor Hall.


                        We sat there most of the night, waiting for supposed infiltrators, or arsonists, to move in our direction.   After that day, which was very warm,

            the night got very cold.   We were sitting on the ground in the woods, just waiting and freezing.[623]



            The Enemy never came, never could have come.   He had always been there.



            Haldeman got home late, drained.   But he of all people should have known that the leader of the new America never slept.   When President Nixon called, it sounded as if he had already put Kent State out of his mind, except as a political ploy available to his opponents to be defensed by his own ploys.   It is remarkable, with the four young bodies lying in Ohio morgues and the stock market in even worse trouble than it had been after his Cambodian speech, that he could keep his mind on the overall objective, the Southern Strategy.


                        could sure do Omaha -- & Govs & Calif

                        should go about our business

                        maybe stay on W. Coast…

                        but hate to run out on Stone Mountain



Almost as an afterthought he added, “get them cranking in the morning on this    don’t react too defensively on student thing   may go to country on student – if more out of line.[624]    As much of the country would find start to find out only several years further on,  Richard Nixon had no conscious idea of what he had done.   But those dark recesses of his own mind that he had never acknowledged to exist knew full well.




[560]    220-CU-2, compilation film of the incident edited from network 16-mm. and student 8-mm. film and shown in the public hearings the Commission held in Kent in August.   None of the available footage of dead and wounded students was included in the “final cut” – i.e., from the film alone, it appeared that Breckenridge was the only casualty.

[561]    Michael Roberts, “KSU Shootings Still Leave Guard Bewildered,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, September 21, 1971, p. 4.

[562]    220-CU-KST, Witness File, Box 92, Folder: “Srp, Raymond”, undated statement to George Warren.

[563]    Ibid., “Stevenson, Alexander,” undated statement to George Warren.

[564]    “Conscientious Objector Gains Discharge,” Cuyahoga Chronicle-Telegram, September 30, 1970, p. D3. 

[565]    Mike York and Fred Kirsch, in May 1970: The Birth of the Antiwar University.  (New York; Pathfinder, 1971), p. 13.

[566]    Sound tape 220-CU-22, Titchenal actuality recording.

[567]    Kathy Lilly, “Plenty of Blood, Tears”, Akron Beacon-Journal, May 5, 1970, p. A9.

[568]    Bill Rubenstein, “Tragedy at Kent”, in Warren (ed.), The Middle of the Country, p. 61.

[569]    Letter to the editor, Akron Beacon-Journal, May 6, 1970, p. A6.

[570]    Moran, p. 5A.

[571]    Elizabeth Troshane, “Kent State: A Coed Goes Back”, Pittsburgh Press, September 4, 1970.  

[572]    “The View From Kent State: A Discussion With 11 Outspoken Students”,  New York Times, May 11, 1970, p. 23.

[573]    220-CU-KST, Sharoff’s statement.   If Canterbury was the senior office present, who gave him the orders?  Where and when had Sharoff been “shot at”?

[574]    This and the direct quotations in the above paragraphs from Titchenal’s audio tape – easily one of the most remarkable sound documents of all time.

[575]    Todd Gitlin, The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage.  (New York; Bantam Books, 1987), p. 414.

[576]    Knight Report, p. A23.

[577]    “My God!   They’re Killing Us!” Newsweek, May 18, 1970, p. 32.

[578]    Morrison and Morrison, Camelot to Kent State, p. 333.

[579]    FBI Report, 1, Vol. 1, p. 865.

[580]    220-CU-KST, radio log, 2/107 ACR, 4 May 1970.   EMPHASIS ADDED

[581]    220-CU-KST, Staff Working Papers, Box 94A, Folder: “McIntyre-Straz”, statement by Ronald Kane to Kenneth McIntyre, undated.

[582]    Ray Redmond, “The Night Brought Only Stillness and Guns,” Akron Beacon-Journal, May 5, 1970, p. A8.

[583]    220-CU-KST, radio log, 2/107 ACR.  EMPHASIS ADDED.

[584]    “Allison’s Dad Keeps Trying to Get Kent Slayings Probe”, Dayton Daily News, September 8, 1971.

[585]    Levine, “Behind the Headlines,”  Seventeen.


[586]    Ezsterhas and Roberts (HB), p. 210.

[587]    Gallagher, “Tragedy at Kent State”.

[588]    “Grim Parents Recall Daughter’s Comment,” New York Times, May 5, 1970, p. 17.

[589]    Richard Nixon, The Memoirs of Richard Nixon.  (New York; Grosset & Dunlap, 1978), pp. 456-457.

[590]    Haldeman (J), May 4, 1970, p. 35.   EMPHASIS IN ORIGINAL.

[591]    Haldeman (N),  May 4, 1970, “1015-1045” and “1400”.   EMPHASIS ADDED.

[592]    Haldeman (J), 5/4/70, p. 35.   EMPHASIS ADDED.

[593]    Safire, Before the Fall, p. 191.

[594]    Don Oberdorfer, “Pleas From Kin Shake Nixon Team,” Washington Post, May 15, 1970.

[595]    “Kent State University”, in Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, Vol. 6, No. 19, May 11, 1970  (Washington, D.C.; US Government Printing Office, 1970), p. 613.

[596]    Evans and Novak, Nixon in the White House, p. 277.

[597]    Dan Rather and Gary P. Gates, The Palace Guard.   (New York; Warner Paperback Library, 1975), p. 216.

[598]    Haldeman (N), May 4, 1970, “[End] 1640”.

[599]    Robert B. Semple, Jr., “Nixon Says Violence Invites Tragedy”, New York Times, May 5, 1970, p. 17.

[600]    Morris interviewed in Wells, The War Within, footnote to p. 424.

[601]    Charles W. Colson, Born Again.   (Old Tappan, N.J.; Chosen Books/Fleming H. Revell Co., 1976), p. 38.   EMPHASIS IN ORIGINAL.

[602]    Haldeman (N), May 4, 1970, “1800”.   EMPHASIS ADDED.

[603]    Semple, p. 17.   EMPHASIS ADDED.

[604]    Victor J. Hillery, “Abreast of the Market: Industrial Average Plunges 19.07 Points to 714.56; Worst Drop Since President Kennedy’s Slaying,”  Wall Street Journal, May 5, 1970, p. 39.

[605]    Richard E. Peterson  May 1970: The Campus Aftermath of Cambodia and Kent State: Part I: Themes and Variations  (Carnegie Commission on Higher Education, 1971), pp. 3 & 7.

[606]    Furlong, ‘The guardsmen’s view’, p. 69

[607]    Grant and Hill, I Was There, p. 114.

[608]    Andrew H. Malcolm, “60 Years of Quiet at Kent State Are Shattered in Era of Protest,”  New York Times, May 5, 1970, p. 17.

[609]    Lew Fried, “A Document of Rage,” in Warren (ed.), pp. 36-37.


[610]    James Herzog, “Business Has Just Stopped,” Akron Beacon-Journal, May 13, 1970, p. A16.

[611]    Jeff Sallot, “Every Night Is ‘Silent Spring’ in Kent,” Akron Beacon-Journal, May 13, 1970, p. C1.

[612]    Jerry M. Flint, “Kent’s Townspeople Back Guardsmen,” New York Times, May 18, 1970, p. 18.

[613]    Moran, p. 5A.

[614]    FBI Report, 2, Vol. 26, pp. 516-517.

[615]    220-CU-KST, radio log, 1/145th Inf, 4 May 1970.

[616]    Ibid.,  Staff Working Papers, Box 93, Folder: “Urban Bass”, interview of Sidia Sagnia by Bass, August 7, 1970.

[617]    “Students at Locale Arrested; Jeffrey Miller Had Their Phone Number”, Ravenna Record-Courier, May 18, 1970, p. 3.

[618]    Michener, “Kent State: Book File”, Box 41, Draft II-A-6.

[619]    220-CU-KST, AG (adjutant general) radio logs, 4 May 1970.


[620]    Eszterhas and Roberts, pp. 279-280.

[621]    220-CU-KST, radio log, 1/145th Inf.

[622]    “Rally in Akron is Peaceful”, Akron Beacon-Journal, May 5, 1970, p. A9.

[623]    Grant and Hill, pp. 114-115.

[624]    Haldeman (N), May 4, 1970, ‘call at home”.