Monday, July 5, 2010

Charles Whitman

Charles Whitman, the Texas Tower mass murderer, killed 15 people and wounded 32 others on August 1, 1966 in Austin, Texas. The night before these shootings he killed his wife and his mother, making his total death count 17. His rampage was finally ended by an Austin Police Officer who shot and killed the sniper. Whitman, an Eagle Scout and former Marine, was enrolled at the university as an engineering student at the time of the murders.

Before joining the Marines, Whitman attended St. Ann's High School in West Palm Beach, Florida. He studied piano and was a pitcher on the school's baseball team. As a child, he was an altar boy at the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church. From his earliest youth, Whitman was fascinated by firearms--an interest encouraged by his troubled, abusive father.

Today Charles Whitman is perhaps best known for being one of the subjects of a rant by drill instructor Sgt. Hartman (R. Lee Ermey) in the 1987 Vietnam War film Full Metal Jacket. In a scene set near the rifle range, Hartman attempts to inspire his soldiers by praising the marksmanship of former Marines Lee Harvey Oswald and Whitman. Summing up, Hartman says, "Outstanding! Those individuals showed what one motivated Marine and his rifle can do! And before you ladies leave my island, you will all be able to do the same thing!"   

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