The All-American Boy and the Birth of S.W.A.T.

Jul 26, 2011 - by Mark Pulham

Charles Whitman

Charles Whitman’s killing rampage from the Tower at the University of Texas on August 1, 1966 led to the creation of S.W.A.T. teams in every major city across the United States.  During the 90-minute siege, the former Marine sharpshooter gunned down almost 50 innocent people – 17 of whom, including an 8-month old fetus, would die from their wounds. 

by Mark Pulham

In the 1950’s, American television seemed to embrace the idea of the perfect family, in one form or another. There was “Father Knows Best” with a wise father and his common sense wife raising their three children, two girls and a boy “; there was “Leave It To Beaver” and “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” both similar, but with two boys; “The Donna Reed Show” with a girl and a boy as children; and even “My Three Sons,” where the father is widowed.

But no matter what the configuration, they all had one thing in common:  all portrayed the popular image of what a typical “all-American” family should be like, a template for everyone watching. The Whitman family would have fit right in.

The Whitman’s were a typical upper-middle-class American family.  C. A. Whitman was a self made man, a plumber who through hard work and a determination to succeed built his own successful sewage plumbing business. He was also an upstanding citizen in the community, a prominent civic leader, and at one time, he was chairman of the Chamber of Commerce.

He had a perfect family, with a loving wife, Margaret, whom he married in their home town of Savannah, Georgia, and they had three sons, Charles Jr., Patrick, and John. They all lived happily on South L Street in Lake Worth, Florida.

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