CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. - Next Tuesday marks the 40th anniversary of the Kent State shootings. Before Bob Carpenter was part of the Charlotte Sheriff's Office, he was a part of history.
"I was always on the campus," Carpenter said. "Everywhere, I had a small cassette tape recorder strapped, almost welded to my hip."
It was May 1970. Carpenter was a Kent State student and news director of the local and campus radio stations when riots broke out.
From Carpenter's May 3, 1970 recording: "There are well over a thousand students congregated on the slopes of the commons in front of the journalism architecture building"
Governor James Rhodes ordered National Guardsmen to step in. "We are going to use every part of law enforcement in Ohio to drive them out of campus," Rhodes said.
Carpenter captured that fiery speech. "I had the only tape in existence. There was only three media there and I was the only with a tape recorder as usual," Carpenter said.
On May 4th, the guardsmen opened fire, killing 4 students and wounding 9. "It was a 13-second barrage of the doggone-est thing in the world," Carpenter said. "The whole world came in at me and I was on the air like 30-some hours."
Through riots and tear gas...through the radio, Carpenter became the eyes and ears of a town in chaos. "When I hear that, I get goose bumps to this day, because hardly a day doesn't goes by that something flashes back on my at kent state," Carpenter said.
Carpenter has just began writing a book on everything he saw and heard back in may of 1970. No telling how long it might take to get all of his thoughts onto paper, but it's something he says he's definitely been looking forward to..
Kent state is holding ceremonies to mark the anniversary of the shootings and Carpenter has been invited to the event as a featured speaker.