Fort Hood victims honored

Granite marker is unveiled on first anniversary

FORT HOOD, Texas — Family members of the 13 people killed one year ago during a shooting rampage at Fort Hood kneeled, cried, and ran their hands across the names of loved ones etched in a 6-foot-tall granite memorial unveiled yesterday at the Army post.

Many families of the 12 soldiers and one civilian who died on Nov. 5, 2009, met each other for the first time at the anniversary memorial, hugging and weeping together.

“It was so emotional to be with the other families and to remember and honor our loved ones we lost on this day,’’ said Leila Hunt Willingham, whose brother, Specialist Jason Dean Hunt, was killed.

General George Casey, the Army chief of staff, and Army Secretary John McHugh presented awards to more than 50 soldiers and civilians whose actions “went above and beyond the call of duty.’’ Those given awards included Captain John Gaffaney, who was fatally shot after he threw a chair at the gunman.

The crowd gave a standing ovation when medals were presented to Officer Kim Munley and Sergeant Mark Todd, the two civilian Fort Hood police officers who engaged in a gun battle with the shooter, eventually wounding him. Munley was wounded by the gunman, who was identified by witnesses and authorities as Major Nidal Hasan.

Todd said he thought about the shooting every day.

“It’s not about us. It’s about the families,’’ Todd said after the ceremony. “You never know what can happen. You’ve just got to rely on training and pay attention to the little things.’’

The victims’ families also talked to the officers and soldiers who were wounded or who helped that day. Kerry Cahill, whose father, Michael, was killed, hugged Staff Sergeant Zackary Filip, a combat medic who had recently returned from Afghanistan and helped about 20 wounded soldiers that day. Filip was among those who received a medal yesterday.

“I wanted to meet the people who knew Dad . . . and to say ‘thank you,’ ’’ Kerry Cahill said.

One year ago, a gunman wearing an Army combat uniform stood near the building’s front door, shouted “Allahu Akbar!’’ — Arabic for “God is great!’’ — and opened fire in a crowded medical building where deploying soldiers get vaccines and other tests, witnesses said.

Hasan, an Army psychiatrist and American-born Muslim who was to deploy to Afghanistan the following month, was paralyzed from the chest down when he was shot that day.

He was charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder. 

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