Victims remembered 1 year after Fort Hood shooting

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FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — Family members of the 13 people killed one year ago during a shooting rampage at Fort Hood kneeled, cried and ran their hands across their loved one’s names etched in a 6-foot-tall granite memorial unveiled Friday at the Texas 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, Spc. Jason Dean “J.D.” Hunt, was killed.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey and Army Secretary John McHugh presented awards to more than 50 soldiers and civilians whose actions “went above and beyond the call of duty.” Capt. John Gaffaney, who was fatally shot after he threw a chair at the gunman, received an award posthumously.

The crowd rose to its feet and applauded, and some cheered when medals were presented to Officer Kim Munley and Sgt. Mark Todd, the two civilian Fort Hood police officers who engaged in a gunbattle with the shooter, eventually wounding him. Munley was wounded by the gunman.

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 Cahill, was killed, hugged Staff Sgt. 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 Friday.

“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 say. He fired rapidly, pausing only to reload, shooting at soldiers hiding under desks and those fleeing the building, according to witnesses.

The gunman was identified by witnesses and authorities as Maj. Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist and American-born Muslim who was to deploy to Afghanistan the following month. Hasan, who was paralyzed from the chest down when he was shot that day, is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder. His Article 32 hearing to determine if there’s enough evidence to send him to trial will resume later this month.

“It’s a chapter in this Army that no matter how many tears may fall will never, ever be washed away and will be part of our history forever,” McHugh told about 1,000 people sitting in chairs under tents with other soldiers and families standing in a field with several other memorial markers.

Maj. Gen. William Grimsley, Fort Hood’s commanding general, said, “Our home was attacked … not in a distant battlefield but right here … and American heroes sacrificed their lives.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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