Earlier this week, a tragedy occurred on a military base that is only minutes away from my home. This picture is found at KTLA.com In Ft. Hood, Texas, a gunman has injured over 30 people and taken the lives of at least a dozen people. Rather than comment much on the event myself at this time, I would like to share with you something written by one of those brave American soldiers that was on the scene at the time it happened. The soldier’s name will remain anonymous to protect the source, although you may see pictures of this and other brave souls on the media. Here, unedited and exactly as I received the story, is one point of view from the middle of the activity. Please take a moment to say a prayer for our troops and their families as you read this:
|Since I don’t know when I’ll sleep (it’s 4 am now) I’ll write what happened (the abbreviated version…..the long one is already part of the investigation with more to come). I’ll not write about any part of the investigation that I’ve learned about since (as a witness I know more than I should since inevitably my JAG brothers and sisters are deeply involved in the investigation). Don’t assume that most of the current media accounts are very accurate. They’re not. They’ll improve with time. Only those of us who were there really know what went down. But as they collate our statements they’ll get it right.
I did my SRP last week (Soldier Readiness Processing) but you’re supposed to come back a week later to have them look at the smallpox vaccination site (it’s this big itchy growth on your shoulder). I am probably alive because I pulled a ———- and entered the wrong building first (the main SRP building). The Medical SRP building is off to the side. Realizing my mistake I left the main building and walked down the sidewalk to the medical SRP building. As I’m walking up to it the gunshots start. Slow and methodical. But continuous. Two ambulatory wounded came out. Then two soldiers dragging a third who was covered in blood. Hearing the shots but not seeing the shooter, along with a couple other soldiers I stood in the street and yelled at everyone who came running that it was clear but to “RUN!”. I kept motioning people fast. about 6-10 minutes later (the shooting continuous), two cops ran up. one male, one female. we pointed in the direction of the shots. they headed that way (the medical SRP building was about 50 meters away). then a lot more gunfire. a couple minutes later a balding man in ACU’s came around the building carrying a pistol and holding it tactically. He started shooting at us and we all dived back to the cars behind us. I don’t think he hit the couple other guys who were there. I did see the bullet holes later in the cars. First I went behind a tire and then looked under the body of the car. I’ve been trained how to respond to gunfire…but with my own weapon. To have no weapon I don’t know how to explain what that felt like. I hadn’t run away and stayed because I had thought about the consequences or anything like that. I wasn’t thinking anything through. Please understand, there was no intention. I was just staying there because I didn’t think about running. It never occurred to me that he might shoot me. Until he started shooting in my direction and I realized I was unarmed. Then the female cop comes around the corner. He shoots her. (according to the news accounts she got a round into him. I believe it, I just didn’t see it. he didn’t go down.) She goes down. He starts reloading. He’s fiddling with his mags. Weirdly he hasn’t dropped the one that was in his weapon. He’s holding the fresh one and the old one (you do that on the range when time is not of the essence but in combat you would just let the old mag go). I see the male cop around the left corner of the building. (I’m about 15-20 meters from the shooter.) I yell at the cop, “He’s reloading, he’s reloading. Shoot him! Shoot him!) You have to understand, everything was quiet at this point. The cop appears to hear me and comes around the corner and shoots the shooter. He goes down. The cop kicks his weapon further away. I sprint up to the downed female cop. Another captain (I think he was with me behind the cars) comes up as well. She’s bleeding profusely out of her thigh. We take our belts off and tourniquet her just like we’ve been trained (I hope we did it right…we didn’t have any CLS (combat lifesaver) bags with their awesome tourniquets on us, so we worked with what we had). Meanwhile, in the most bizarre moment of the day, a photographer was standing over us taking pictures. I suppose I’ll be seeing those tomorrow. Then a soldier came up and identified himself as a medic. I then realized her weapon was lying there unsecured (and on “fire”). I stood over it and when I saw a cop yelled for him to come over and secure her weapon (I would have done so but I was worried someone would mistake me for a bad guy). I then went over to the shooter. He was unconscious. A Lt Colonel was there and had secured his primary weapon for the time being. He also had a revolver. I couldn’t believe he was one of ours. I didn’t want to believe it. Then I saw his name and rank and realized this wasn’t just some specialist with mental issues. At this point there was a guy there from CID and I asked him if he knew he was the shooter and had him secured. He said he did. I then went over the slaughter house. the medical SRP building. No human should ever have to see what that looked like. and I won’t tell you. Just believe me. Please. there was nothing to be done there. Someone then said there was someone critically wounded around the corner. I ran around (while seeing this floor to ceiling window that someone had jumped through movie style) and saw a large African-American soldier lying on his back with two or three soldiers attending. I ran up and identified two entrance wounds on the right side of his stomach, one exit wound on the left side and one head wound. He was not bleeding externally from the stomach wounds (though almost certainly internally) but was bleeding from the head wound. A soldier was using a shirt to try and stop the head bleeding. He was conscious so I began talking to him to keep him so. He was 42, from North Carolina , he was named something Jr., his son was named something III and he had a daughter as well. His children lived with him. He was divorced. I told him the blubber on his stomach saved his life. He smiled. a young soldier in civvies showed up and identified himself as a combat medic. We debated whether to put him on the back of a pickup truck. A doctor (well, an audiologist) showed up and said you can’t move him, he has a head wound. we finally sat tight. I went back to the slaughterhouse. they weren’t letting anyone in there. not even medics. finally, after about 45 minutes had elapsed some cops showed up in tactical vests. someone said the TBI building was unsecured. They headed into there. All of a sudden a couple more shots were fired. People shouted there was a second shooter. a half hour later the SWAT showed up. there was no second shooter. that had been an impetuous cop apparently. but that confused things for a while. meanwhile I went back to the shooter. the female cop had been taken away. a medic was pumping plasma into the shooter. I’m not proud of this but I went up to her and said “this is the shooter, is there anyone else who needs attention…do them first”. she indicated everyone else living was attended to. I still hadn’t seen any EMTs or ambulances. I had so much blood on me that people kept asking me if I was ok. but that was all other people’s blood. eventually (an hour and a half to two hours after the shootings) they started landing choppers. they took out the big African American guy and the shooter. I guess the ambulatory wounded were all at the SRP building. Everyone else in my area was dead.
I suppose the emergency responders were told there were multiple shooters. I heard that was the delay with the choppers (they were all civilian helicopters). they needed a secure LZ. but other than the initial cops who did everything right, I didn’t see a lot of them for a while. I did see many a soldier rush out to help their fellows/sisters. there was one female soldier, I don’t know her name or rank but I would recognize her anywhere who was everywhere helping people. a couple people, mainly civilians, were hysterical, but only a couple. one civilian freaked out when I tried to comfort her when she saw my uniform. I guess she had seen the shooter up close. a lot of soldiers were rushing out to help even when we thought there was another gunman out there. this Army is not broken no matter what the pundits say. not the Army I saw. and then they kept me for a long time to come. oh, and perhaps the most surreal thing, at 1500 (the end of the workday on Thursdays) when the bugle sounded we all came to attention and saluted the flag. in the middle of it all. this is what I saw. it can’t have been real. but this is my small corner of what happened.