The sole Australian survivor of the apocalyptic Waco siege has broken his silence, 25 years on from the tragic incident.
Tonight in a 60 Minutes exclusive, Melbourne-born Graeme Craddock reveals to reporter Allison Langdon what really took place during the infamous 51-day siege.
“We were expecting to get killed at any moment,” Mr Craddock said.
“Some people die quickly, some people die slowly. I just wanted to die quickly.”
The Waco siege made headlines around the world when David Koresh, a cult leader who believed he was Jesus Christ, took on the United States government.
The two-month standoff began with a deadly gun battle and ended with a deliberately lit inferno in which Koresh and 79 of his followers were killed – 20 of them children. Only nine people walked out alive.
“Sometimes I do feel guilty that I'm still alive,” Mr Craddock said.
“But I'm glad I'm alive because if I wasn't here doing this, nobody would be able to tell you what I can tell you.”
In the late 1980’s, self-styled preacher David Koresh established his Branch Davidian cult in the Texas town of Waco.
Central to Koresh’s hold over his followers was his prophesy of a final battle with the government during which he would be killed, just as Jesus was.
Koresh preached his death would lead to his resurrection as Christ – the Second Coming.
“His explanation was that we were going to be attacked,” Mr Craddock revealed.
“He said God had told him that we were to defend ourselves and get ready for it.”
In preparation for this final holy war, Koresh and his followers began hoarding deadly firearms.
After months of illegally stockpiling weapons, Koresh gained the attention of the US Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco, which lead to the initial compound raid.
What was intended to be a swift police operation became a gun battle that killed four government agents and six Branch Davidians.
Then began what would become a 51-day siege. Week by week as the world watched the Waco standoff, sordid details of Koresh’s cult emerged.
Taking multiple wives in the name of God – some as young as 11 – Koresh enraged the world.
But to Mr Craddock, this shocking practice was not unusual.
“The concept of taking more than one wife wasn’t strange to me. From a biblical perspective you had King David who had 700 wives,” Mr Craddock said.
“Whatever he did was according to what God had told him to do.”
This Sunday, Mr Craddock takes Langdon through the final hours at Waco, how he made his miraculous escape and most incredibly, why he still believes David Koresh will one day return to Earth as the son of God.
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