Bonfire 1999 Memories

This is a collection of stories about the Bonfire 1999 collapse. If you have a story to share, please email me at, or add as a comment on the board.

Sunday, November 06, 2005


I wrote this poem almost two years ago, posting it on an ezboard site I no longer keep up. You can visit that site here.

I grow old, while you remain young.
Each day the sun sets, but you never see it's beauty.
I remember crying at silver taps, holding onto my friend,
Never had those trumpets sounded so sad.
I will never forget that day,
The lights flashing, the darkness of the site,
The hundreds standing, when there should have been so much going on.
You never saw your fellow students wait in line to help, nor the horrible, indescribable look in eveyones eyes.
I wish you could have known how much we mourned,
But you never had the chance.
It should have been me, my class that died.
You were so young, far to young to die.
But you did.
I grow older, my class has moved on.
But a peice of me is frozen in that day,
A peice that cannot leave your grave.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Of tickets, planes, and tears

Funny thing happened to me about 3 weeks before the game against tu. I got homesick. It was my 3rd year at college, and I really hadn't had a problem with homesickness before. But this time, it hit me hard. Soooo, Priceline was logged onto and I had a ticket home for thanksgiving.
Then Bonfire fell. I lived on campus at that time, so I was immersed in what happened. By the time I had to leave to Austin for my plane, I just wanted to get away. The stress was so much!
A friend met me in Austin. We watched the candle lighting ceremony on his TV. I will never forget hearing the Spirit of Aggieland on the UT belltower.
The plane ride home was very stressful. Just waiting, waiting. When we landed,and I was almost of the plane, I couldn't take it any more. I saw my mom, and I ran to her arms. All the stress of the past week came out as I cried. I think I finally was able to grieve.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Christin O. " Silence to hear the Moans"

Toby called me at 5:30 am. He told me that bonfire fell, but he and all of his buddies were okay. I asked him what was going on. He told me he had to go, but he said that I should turn on the news. I turned on the TV and every channel had bonfire. I called my parents and told them what happened and that I was okay and so was Toby. I got off the phone and sat in silence staring at the TV. I got dressed and went to class. I had a 8am Socio class that day. We talked about Bonfire. I just stared out the window. I remember Toby telling me the day before that their outfit was supposed to work on Bonfire that night, but there had been an early morning rehearsal called. I just kept thinking about the people still out there. She kept us in class the entire class period. I had Anth next in the O&M building. I remember looking up as I walked into the building and seeing a helicopter. My prof released class 5 minutes after it started. When I walked back out of the building there were so many helicopters hovering around that I could not count them. I went to the stack next. The workers would ask us to be quiet so we could hear if anyone was moaning. I could not believe that this was happening. I went to meet Toby after about an hour. He told me that at about 3am the fire alarm had gone off. Everyone left the dorm. The leaders of A-batt told them what was going on. They counted to make sure that everyone was there. I told him how weird it was that the night before we had been driving past Bonfire saying it looked like it was leaning. This just could not really be happening. I watched the memorial on TV. I was worried that several members of my sorority associate class had not checked in. Finally by about 8pm everyone did. Toby called after the memorial. He said that everyone was going to stack to help. I told him I wanted to be there. He said he would not be able to stand with me. I said I didn't care; I just needed to be near him. So we went to stack until about 12 am that night. Everything was so strange for the next few weeks. Campus was silent. Classes were cancelled, tests postponed. We were supposed to take our national sorority test the next week. The national leaders called to tell us it was postponed and to offer their condolences. I got emails from friends from high school asking if Toby and I were okay. Everything was just kind of in an uproar. That is what I remember most about Bonfire.

Denise's Story "Failed Test and Crying Red Pots"

Five Years Ago ...

Five years ago I was walking across A&M's campus searching for answers. My roommate, Jenny, had come into my room earlier that morning and simply said, "Bonfire fell."
It was terribly and horribly amazing at how much those words would change my life. I wasn't sure if classes were cancelled or not, so I went to campus. I had a test scheduled for the 19th, and our teacher, against the advice of the school's administrators, made us take it. It's the only test I have ever failed.
When I was walking across campus, it seemed eerily silent; the quiet was broken every once and awhile when the helicopters would rush by. At Fish Pond I saw a redpot kicking his pot across the ground; then he quickly ran over to it, fell on the ground, and cried. I wanted to say something to him, but words escaped me. Instead, I kept walking, found a bench out of the way, and cried.
And I wondered how 12 people I didn't even know could have affected me that much. And all I knew is that my fellow Aggies were gone.
The 12 made such a huge, dramatic impact on my life. A&M and all my experiences there have made me who I am today. And even though I didn't know them, I miss them. Especially today.
"Some may boast of prowess bold,
Of the school they think so grand,
But there's a spirit can ne'er be told,
It's the Spirit of Aggieland!
We are the Aggies, the Aggies are we,
True to each other as Aggies can be.
We've got to fight, boys, we've got to fight,
We've got to fight for maroon and white.
After they've boosted all the rest
They will come and join the best,
For we are the Aggies, the Aggies are we,
We're from Texas AMC."

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Sharonda "12th Man"

Around 6am was when I woke up and was told that Bonfire fell. It didn't really click as to what happened. I was half asleep and honestly just fell back asleep. I mechanically got ready for class around 8ish and as I was walking to Blocker I realized something was wrong. My class was cancelled and I power walked back to the quad and into guard room where my outfit was. I was able to find out what was going on and the status on deaths and injuries and then it became real. Some of the names I didn't know, but several i did including a guy that sit on the same row as me for our military science class. I remember being upset w/my roommate, whom I didn't get along, with because she didn't think fondly of the guy, but I felt she should've kept that to herself and respected his memory. I can't remember when I went out to the site whether it was the next day or 2 days later, but one of my female buddies and I went and laid a rose on some of the logs. I also went to the vigils on campus and was sad by the events. I remember thinking how odd it was that 12 students died and the 12th man was one of the symbols of A&M.

Jerilyn C. "4am Phone Calls and Helicopters"

I should have known something wasn't normal when the phone rang at 4 in the morning. I guess that I didn't was a testament to how tired I was. I handed the phone to Bonny, and walked down the hall to the restroom, wondering what was going on. When I came back, Bonnie was sitting on her bunk. Her words were horribly simple.
"Bonfire fell".
Of course Bonfire didn't fall. Her mom had to be wrong. So, we called the radio station, KORA. They would be able to clear this up. I knew that Bonfire was still up. So I asked them if Bonfire had fallen. And they said yes.
What do you do at a moment like that? What do you think, or feel? We turned the tv onto the bonfire channel. Blue and Red lights were all we saw against a dark screen. I think that's when it finally hit.
Bonny and I sat on the floor of our dorm room, held each other, and cried. The way the world was supposed to be was gone.
We got up and got dressed, and went outside.
"Wait, what if my parents find out, and I'm not here?" I asked.
So we went upstairs and called my dad. He was asleep.
"Dad Bonfire fell."
"Bonfire fell, but I'm ok."
He was still a bit out of it, but I think it got through. Then we went out to stack site. The longest day of my life began.

I tried to go to class, but about halfway through german I left. So I went to stack site again. So many people were out there, sitting, standing, just being. We watched as log after log was slowly removed. The student's who had put up the stack, they were the ones taking it down, trying to save just one more person.
I saw two uniformed officers put a log on their shoulders. Later we found out the football team was out there as well. But there were many who waited, and the process was slow. Besides, I had never been to cut or stack, so I could not help.
I went to donate blood next. But the lines were hours long. So I just walked. Everywhere you went, you could see the pain. That look that spoke so much: I hurt, how can this have happened, what do we do now?, that look was in everyone's eyes.
Sometime in the afternoon, I went to the Rudder fountain plaza.It's about the size of a goodsize Applebees. But today, there were so many student's gathered there, you couldn't see the bricks. We had come to pray. I went with some friends from the ABS (Association of Baptist Students), and I started crying. Adam held me through the whole thing, even though his leg went to sleep. I wanted to hear the prayers, but the news copters swooped low, trying to get a good shot of this amazing scene. Ratings, you know? I didn't hear anything but the beat of the rotor.
The day was like a dream. That night, around seven, we went to Reed Arena for a memorial. The arena can hold 14000, but tonight, the aisles were filled as well. I'd say there were 16000 there. I don't remember much of the service. George H.W. Bush was there. And the families of the victoms who could make it. What I remember is after the families had left, one line of Corps guys put there arms around each other. And slowly at first then quickly, so did the rest of the auditoriam. Someone started singing amazing grace, and we all joined in. I cried. To this day, that song brings tears to my eyes.
My final memory of that day, lying in bed, praying that the helicopters would leave. I felt that if they would leave, some how it would be over. I didn't get to sleep until they were gone.