Deployed Soldiers reach out to Fort Hood Families
November 9, 2009
CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION Q-WEST, Iraq - It was nearly 11:00 p.m. on Nov. 5 here as 15th Sustainment Brigade Soldiers began hearing about a shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, their home station, and began trying to contact friends and loved ones there.
According to a III Corps press release, the shooting claimed the lives of 13 people, 12 Soldiers and one civilian, and wounded 43 others at the Soldier Readiness Processing Center on Ft. Hood Nov. 5, a place that all Soldiers deploying from or redeploying to Ft. Hood must go through.
Although no 15th Sust. Bde. Soldiers were involved, many of their families and friends live and work on Ft. Hood.
Capt. Nicole Harrell, a 15th Sust. Bde. support operations planner and Los Angeles, native, was studying for an online course when someone told her there was an incident on Ft. Hood and she should call home.
"At first it was scary because I didn't immediately get in touch [with my family]," she said.
Harrell's husband, also a Soldier, their 11-year-old daughter, and 2-year-old twin boys all live on Ft. Hood.
"You're here in a warzone, but the war was back home," she said.
"Being a military family, you're always more concerned about the person deployed."
Harrell's family wasn't near the site of the shooting and she spoke to them again Nov. 7 using video teleconferencing provided by the 15th Special Troops Battalion, 15th Sust. Bde.
Other 15th STB Soldiers, like Capt. Diane Boor, a Linwood, Mich., native and physician's assistant; and Sgt. Justin Mosier, a brigade supply sergeant and Dothan, Ala., native, did the same.
"Does it still feel awkward to go outside'" Mosier asked his wife, Lydia Mosier, as he leaned toward the VTC's screen in a small room here.
"[It's] not as bad as yesterday," she responded from a room on Ft. Hood.
Greg Worden, their 5-year-old son, interrupted telling his father about the situation at his on-post school Nov. 5.
"The windows were all closed and an alarm went off," he said, playing with a microphone while his little sister fidgeted in his mother's lap.
Mosier later explained that his family lives no more than three miles from the site of the shootings.
He also said that he learned about the shootings from his wife on an online instant messaging program.
"I told her to lock the doors and windows, close the blinds, and go upstairs," Mosier recalled.
"[We] talked pretty much all night - [I] couldn't sleep not knowing if there was still someone running around," he said.
One of Boor's twin sons, Benjamin Boor, 6, explained through the VTC to his mother the scene at an organized football game he was playing in at the time.
"The police said they wanted to get all the bad guys, that's why they quitted it," he told her.
Boor was still unsure as to whether or not she knew any of the medical personnel shot in the Thursday afternoon attack.
"No matter where you are, no matter if you're at home or deployed in a warzone, no one [is] ever really safe," Boor said.
Boor also mentioned that it was comforting to see her family.
"[I] have that picture in my mind that they are doing well, acting like they normally do," she said smiling.
Capt. Brent Crosswhite, 15th STB chaplain and Blanchard, Okla., native, explained how much of a morale booster it was for Soldiers to be able to see their families through VTC or online video messaging services.
"Sometimes seeing is believing," he said shortly after speaking to his own family on VTC.
"The next best thing would be if you could reach through the screen and ..." he made a hugging motion in the air.
Other Soldiers agreed.
"Getting to see the kids, see the family after that kind of thing is reassuring," Spc. Justin Heath, a 15th STB communications specialist and Lake Charles, La., native, said.
He also noted that it was the first time the battalion's VTC was used for contacting families this deployment.
The 15th Sust. Bde. deployed in mid-September, and were required to go through the SRPC, leaving the site of the shooting fresh in their minds.
"I spent two weeks there trying to get ready to deploy," Harrell said.
"I can picture those Soldiers sitting there, getting ready to leave."
Harrell was confident that the damage done to the Fort Hood community was only temporary and noted that Soldiers and the community come together the most in times of tragedy.
"It's going to go back to being the 'Great Place,'" she said, referring to Ft. Hood's nickname shortly after a VTC session with her family in which she sung the "Itsy Bitsy Spider" with her young twins.
"We'll suffer together and overcome it."