Ronald L. Bain, a Tiffin native and a retired Army major who received a medal for his heroism in rescuing comrades from the bomb-torn Oklahoma City federal building, died of heart failure Friday in Grady Memorial Hospital, Delaware, Ohio. He was 54.
Mr. Bain, who lived near Marengo in Morrow County, began to develop lung problems about five years after the April, 1995, bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, which killed 168 people, including 18 children in a day care. He’d arrived in Oklahoma City the summer before.
His condition was chronic, and he received frequent treatments, his wife, Laura, said. The military deemed that he’d sustained a service-related disability.
“He was the officer in charge that day, and he refused to leave,” his wife said. “He kept returning to the building. He kept searching for his people.
“There was glass dust, asbestos dust, concrete dust, that black smoke you saw on the news from fires, so he would have been exposed to that for an extended time,” she said.
“We feel so blessed he lived through that [to] have another 18 years and see his children grown,” his wife said. “It’s always too soon.”
He was in uniform that day, so he used his tie as a tourniquet on one person and his white T-shirt to wrap the head wound of another.
“I was trained to be a leader,” he told The Blade the day after the blast. “I was able to use that experience when I needed to carry on. We are struggling with the situation now, but we have to carry on.”
Mr. Bain received the Soldier’s Medal, which is awarded for acts of heroism not involving conflict with an enemy.
“His training and his sense of duty and his caring for his comrades was every bit as strong as if he had been in combat,” said his wife, an Air Force veteran. “He was the right man for the moment and behaved admirably.”
A year after the bombing, Mr. Bain told The Blade that those early days were an emotional roller coaster. Eight people in his battalion’s office died as a result of the bombing.
“I would go to the hospital and visit with someone who was severely injured, and I was very thankful they did not lose their life. But that same day or the next day, I’d have to go to a funeral. That was very saddening,” he said.
Timothy McVeigh was executed in 2001 for the crime. Mr. Bain testified at the trial of Terry Nichols, a co-conspirator, who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
Mr. Bain retired from the military in the summer of 1996. “The bombing showed me how important family is,” he told The Blade.
He was born Aug. 23, 1958, in Tiffin to Evelyn and Gerald Bain. He was a 1976 graduate of Mohawk High School. He was a 1981 graduate of Ohio University, from which he received a bachelor’s degree in communications and was in ROTC.
As a second lieutenant with a communications battalion, he served at Fort Hood, Texas, and in Pirmasens, Germany. He later was a signal company commander in Bremerhaven, Germany, and a senior communications staff officer in Korea and Massachusetts.
Communications was the theme of his postmilitary career, first in telecommunications and then in computers. He was employed the last six years with PCM/SARCOM in Columbus, an information technology and computer consulting firm.
He was a member of Kilbourne United Methodist Church, where he was a lay leader and a Sunday school teacher and, the last year, a choir member.
Surviving are his wife, Laura, whom he married Oct. 16, 1982; daughters, Valerie and Allison Bain; son, Stephen; mother, Evelyn Bain Gerstenberger; brothers, David and Ritchie, and sisters, Jennifer Bain Noggle and Lisa Bain Richmond.
Services were Monday. Arrangements were by the Snyder-Rodman Funeral Home, Delaware.
The family suggests tributes to Kilbourne United Methodist Church, Kilbourne, Ohio.
Contact Mark Zaborney at: email@example.com or 419-724-6182.
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