War on Terrorism

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

President Pays Respects to Fort Hood Victims, Families

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

Nov. 10, 2009 - President Barack Obama today traveled to Fort Hood, Texas, where he comforted survivors and families during a memorial service honoring the 13 people who had perished during the Nov. 5 shootings there. "For those families who have lost a loved one, no words can fill the void that has been left," Obama said.

Nonetheless, he said, the memory of the 12 fallen soldiers and one Fort Hood civilian employee who died "will be honored in the places they lived and by the people they touched."

Neither the United States nor its values could endure without the efforts of its military members, to include the service of the 10 men and three women who had died as a result of the Fort Hood shootings, Obama said.

"And, that is why we pay tribute to their stories," Obama said, citing the tale of fallen soldier Lt. Col. Juanita L. Warman, 55, of Havre De Grace, Md. Warman was assigned to the 1908th Medical Company, Independence, Mo.

Warman "was the daughter and granddaughter of Army veterans," Obama said. "She was a single mom who put herself through college and graduate school, and served as a nurse practitioner while raising her two daughters." Warman, he said, also left behind a loving husband.

The other soldiers and one civilian employee killed in the shootings are:

-- Maj. Libardo Caraveo, 52, of Woodbridge, Va., assigned to the 467th Medical Detachment, Madison, Wis.;

-- Capt. John P. Gaffaney, 54, of San Diego, assigned to the 1908th Medical Company, Independence, Mo.;

-- Capt. Russell Seager, 41, of Racine, Wis., assigned to the 467th Medical Company, Madison;

-- Staff Sgt. Justin Decrow, 32, of Plymouth, Ind., assigned to the 16th Signal Company at Fort Hood;

-- Sgt. Amy Krueger, 29, of Kiel, Wis.. assigned to the 467th Medical Company;

-- Spc. Jason Hunt, 22, of Tillman, Okla., assigned to the 1st Brigade at Fort Hood;

-- Spc. Frederick Greene, 29, of Mountain City, Tenn., assigned to the 16th Signal Company at Fort Hood;

-- Pfc. Aaron Nemelka, 19, of West Jordan, Utah, assigned to the 510th Engineer Company, 20th Engineer Battalion, at Fort Hood;

-- Pfc. Michael Pearson, 22, of Bolinbrook, Ill., assigned to the 510th Engineer Company, 20th Engineer Battalion, at Fort Hood;

-- Spc. Kham Xiong, 23, of St. Paul, Minn., assigned to the 510th Engineer Company, 20th Engineer Battalion, at Fort Hood;

-- Pvt. Francheska Velez, 21, of Chicago, assigned to the 15th Combat Support Battalion at Fort Hood; and

-- Michael Cahill of Cameron, Texas, a Fort Hood civilian employee.

The suspected gunman, Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, also allegedly wounded 38 other people during the rampage. Hasan, who was wounded by Fort Hood civilian security officers Sgt. Kimberly Munley and Senior Sgt. Mark Todd, is in intensive care at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. Munley was injured during an exchange of gunfire with the suspect; Todd was unharmed.

Obama, who met privately with family members of victims during his visit at Fort Hood, cited the shootings as a senseless tragedy and he promised that justice would be served.

"It may be hard to comprehend the twisted logic that led to this tragedy," Obama said. "But, this much we do know – no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts; no just and loving God looks upon them with favor."

America is experiencing trying times, Obama said, noting the U.S. military continues to combat extremists in Afghanistan, as efforts also continue to bring the war in Iraq to a successful end.

And, as the United States faces challenges abroad, "the stories of those at Fort Hood reaffirm the core values that we are fighting for, and the strength that we must draw upon," Obama said, citing the service of the fallen and the documented acts of valor of Fort Hood personnel who rushed in to protect and treat the wounded amid the gunfire.

"We are a nation that endures because of the courage of those who defend it," Obama said. "We saw that valor in those who braved bullets here at Fort Hood, just as surely as we see it in those who signed up knowing they would serve in harm's way."

The president was accompanied by First Lady Michelle Obama, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Joint Chiefs Chairman Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, Army Secretary John M. McHugh, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. and other officials.

The Fort Hood shootings "will impact the families, the Fort Hood community and the Army for a long time to come," Casey said during his remarks.

Yet, the tragedy also featured "the courageous actions of the first responders, the caregivers, the selflessness of fellow soldiers who risked their lives to help one another, the calm leadership of the command and the overwhelming outpouring of support from the community," Casey said.

"These responses in the aftermath of tragedy have been uplifting, if not heroic," Casey said, noting such acts reflect the values and determination of U.S. soldiers and Army civilians that serve in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere in the world.

U.S. soldiers' "willingness to sacrifice to preserve our way of life and to build a better future for others is a great strength of this nation," Casey said. Their service and the service of the 13 people honored at Fort Hood, he said, "epitomize the best of America."

Fort Hood and its civilian neighbors stepped up to meet the challenge of the Nov. 5 shootings, said Army Lt. Gen. Robert W. Cone, commander of 3rd Corps and Fort Hood.

"In times like these our Army family and surrounding community pulled together in selfless service," Cone said, noting that the giving of blood and provision of medical care to help the wounded were among the "countless instances" of civilian support and concern following the shootings.

"Nothing can erase our grief over the loss of the loved ones we honor here today," Cone said. "But, our commitment to our country, our Army and our families will help us move forward together."

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