After nearly six years and a legislative wording change, shooting
victims from the Nov. 5, 2009, attack at Fort Hood were recognized
during a Purple Heart and Defense of Freedom award ceremony at Fort
Hood, Texas on April 10, 2015.
III Corps and Fort Hood
Commanding General Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, joined by the Secretary
of the Army, John McHugh, presented Purple Hearts and Secretary of
Defense Medals for the Defense of Freedom to victims and family
members of the fallen from that tragic day at the ceremony.
Thirteen people were killed in the shooting at Fort Hood's Soldier
Readiness Processing Center that day. Another 31 were wounded by
gunfire. The gunman was convicted and sentenced to death in
Retired Gen. Bob Cone, former III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general, offers remarks during the Fort Hood Purple Heart and Defense of Freedom Medal Ceremony on April 10, 2015 at III Corps Headquarters, Fort Hood, Texas. (U.S. Army photo by Daniel Cernero, III Corps and Fort Hood Public Affairs)
“We honor the memories of the 13 souls laid to eternal
rest pay tribute to their sacrifice,” MacFarland said. “We
also remember the acts of courage and selflessness by
Soldiers and civilians which prevented an even greater
calamity from occurring that day.”
Purple Hearts were
presented to representatives of 10 of the Soldiers killed
Nov. 5, 2009, as well as to 26 of those wounded. The Defense
of Freedom Medal, the civilian equivalent of the Purple
Heart, was presented to the family of Michael Cahill, the
lone civilian contractor killed that day, as well as to
Kimberly Munley, the Department of the
Army civilian police officer who was shot when she responded
to the scene.
Purple Hearts for four Soldiers
wounded and the families of two Soldiers killed Nov. 5,
2009, will be awarded at local ceremonies throughout the
nation, MacFarland said. They were not forgotten.
honor them, as well,” the general said.
recipients hailed from 21 states and units from across Fort
Hood and throughout the U.S. and, of those killed, seven
were active-duty, five were Reservists and one was a
“Hundreds of lives have been
woven together by this single day of valor and loss,”
MacFarland said. “Although no words can resurrect those we
lost or completely erase the scars, today's ceremony is an
opportunity to provide a sense of closure to those who were
injured or those who lost a loved one.”
the bravery of the first responders who rushed into the
active scene, those who worked to distract the shooter so
others could escape and those who provided emergency aid to
“Their bravery has been matched only by
their resilience – the spirit of which is seen throughout
the Army,” MacFarland said, noting the 20th Engineer
Battalion at Fort Hood, which lost four Soldiers that day
and had 11 wounded; and the 467 Medical Detachment, an Army
Reserve unit based in Madison,Wisconsin, which had three
Soldiers killed and four wounded in the shooting. “Despite
these losses, both units deployed to Afghanistan within
Retired Gen. Bob Cone, III Corps and Fort
Hood commanding general at the time of the incident,
recalled the resilience and bravery in face of that
Less than two months into command at Fort
Hood, Cone was on his way to speak at a college graduation
ceremony at Howze Auditorium, which shared a parking lot
with the SRP site, when he was alerted to avoid the area.
He remembers the tragedy and pain of that day, but also
the way the installation and surrounding community rallied.
“I think what struck me most was the tremendous sense of
purpose and resilience of the Soldiers, civilians and first
responders as the scene,” Cone said. “At the moment of
greatest need, these professionals were at their very best,
using their combat training to respond to the crisis, to
treat and evacuate the wounded, and care for each other.”
Cone also was struck by the response from the Central
“The outpouring of support for
everything from blood transfusions to local hospitality for
families, to financial contributions, was simply amazing,”
the former III Corps commander said. “In so many ways, the
community's response truly represents the remarkable bond
between this installation and this community.”
stepped up that day and continue to support those wounded
and the families of those killed, Cone said.
Survivors have changed and adapted, and Cone has seen the
“I have monitored many of you as you
have struggled, adapted, triumphed or stumbled. While there
has been much pain, there has also been great progress,” he
said. “That is the essence of being a survivor that is the
essence of being a victor over a terrible incident like
Capt. Dorothy Carskadon, a Reservist with the
467th Combat Stress Control Unit on Nov. 5, 2009, returned
to her civilian job as a social worker at a veterans' center
following the incident.
Working with combat-theater
veterans and their families aided her recovery, Carskadon
“It really helped me move through the issues
that I needed to move through,” she said.
said she has found an outpouring of support for herself and
her spouse from her community, church, family and friends.
“It is overwhelming,” she said. “It has been
overwhelming since day one.”
That support and
resilience exhibited by Soldiers like Carskadon illustrated
the victory that Cone said marked the ceremony.
the recipients of today's awards, both living and deceased,
today is about victory,” Cone said. “Today is about fully
documenting and acknowledging your sacrifice for this great
Many of those wounded that November day said
the ceremony served not only as recognition of their
sacrifice and injuries, but also of the magnitude of the
shooting. They thanked the legislators for their efforts to
make the awards presentations possible.
Purple Heart validates her experience, Carskadon said.
“It validates that it was a terrorist activity,” she
said. “It draws a line, a distinction between workplace
violence and terrorism.”
Kerry Cahill, daughter of
the lone civilian fatality on Nov. 5, 2009, said there is
more to do as too many veterans struggle with suicide and
behavioral health concerns from incidents such as the one
that claimed her father. Those concerns were what her father
devoted his life helping Soldiers through.
not done,” she said. “With these medals, with all of this,
comes a great weight, because I am not doing enough is how I
feel every day because I can't do what my dad did. I am not
in the room with a Soldier every day, asking how they're
sleeping, asking if they need help.”
Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford, who was shot seven times Nov. 5 while
working alongside his friend Michael Cahill at the SRP site,
shared those worries about veteran suicides and his fellow
Fort Hood survivors.
“Within our family, the Fort
Hood family,” Lunsford said, “we stay in constant
communication with each other so that we do not let those
demons of the night come back and haunt us.”
By U.S. Army Heather Graham-Ashley
III Corps and Fort Hood
More photos of Fort Hood Honoring Victims of Terrorist's November 2009 Shootings
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