FORT HOOD, Texas -- "Death leaves a heartache no one can heal. Love leaves a memory no one can steal."

Those words are forever etched in a granite monument on Fort Hood in honor of the 13 Soldiers and civilian who were shot and killed Nov. 5, 2009, while processing Soldiers for deployment.

As the monument was unveiled and the Fort Hood community gathered to cherish the memories of the fallen, the community also took the time, one year later, to thank the first responders who risked their own lives in the midst of chaos.

"Today we gather to pay tribute to those people who heard that call, and who like so many before them answered with neither hesitation nor reservation," the Honorable John McHugh, secretary of the Army told a crowd gathered at Memorial Park Nov. 5, 2010.

"Thank you for your quick thinking. Thank you for putting others before yourselves and thank you for those whose lives you saved, but most of all, thank you for being a member of this proud, this absolutely amazing Army family," he said.

The secretary and the Chief of Staff of the Army presented 52 awards to first responders, emergency medical technicians, doctors, nurses, police officers and Soldiers. Sixteen current and former Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center staff members and Soldiers were among the recipients, adding to the more than 700 CRDAMC personnel who received service medals and certificates in April.

Awards presented included the Soldier's Medal, Secretary of the Army Award for Valor, Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Civilian Service Award and Superior Civilian Service Award.

"We're here this morning to publicly recognize these patriots, selfless men and women who went well above and beyond the call of duty, and in doing so, saved countless more lives and protected our home," said Maj. Gen. Will Grimsley, Fort Hood's senior commander.

"The Soldiers and civilians we honor today come from all parts of our Army and civilian workforce and are shining examples that mirror the heroic history of our Army, an Army comprised of ordinary men and women who consistently do extraordinary things," Grimsley continued.

CRDAMC personnel were also recognized for their heroism by the Fort Hood Chapter of the Military Order of the World Wars. Retired Col. Kermit Brock, the organization's regional commander, presented a plaque to the Department of Emergency Medicine.

"You became heroes not by any conscious choice on your part, but by the fell clutch of circumstance and the providence of God," Brock said. "Your training and your willingness to serve, your willingness to respond in such circumstances brought heroic life-saving support to wounded Soldiers and to the civilians who were entrusted that day into your care.

"We commend the readiness of the entire staff to meet the needs of all the victims," he said.

During an afternoon remembrance ceremony, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George S. Casey Jr. expressed additional gratitude to the medics of the 467th Combat Stress Detachment. They were preparing for deployment at the Soldier Readiness Processing Center when three of their Soldiers were killed.

"I visited the 467th in Afghanistan, and I was impressed with their resilience," said Casey. "They were working hard to come to grips with what happened here, even as they poured themselves into helping other Soldiers deal with the stresses of combat. They helped others in clinics that they had named for their fallen comrades."

While Nov. 5 was a day to grieve and a day to offer gratitude, on Nov. 6 the community began anew. Thousands came out to Cameron Field for the Run to Remember.

"Those of us who were on Fort Hood November 5th will always remember. We will remember the loss of our friends. We will remember the adrenaline that helped us care for patients all through the night. We will remember the dreams of the wounded and continue to help them reach the highest heights," said Col. (Dr.) Steven Braverman, CRDAMC commander.

"Looking at today's turnout, it's evident that even for those who weren't here a year ago, our nation, our Army family and the great place will always remember," he said.

As daylight peaked above the horizon and a canon fired in the distance, Braverman stood at the lectern and announced the start of the half marathon.

Staff Sgt. Patrick Zeigler, who was shot four times during the Nov. 5 incident, led the race on a specially designed bike alongside other wounded veterans.

The Chief of Staff of the Army said Zeigler is an inspiration as he continues to follow his dream of being a Soldier.

"A year after the tragedy, we gather to honor the fallen and the wounded, to grieve with their families, to recall the valiant efforts of the first responders and to thank the community for their outpouring of support," said
Casey. "But most importantly, we gather to remember; to remember and honor the lives of Chief Warrant Officer two Retired Mike Cahill, Major Libardo Caraveo, Staff Sergeant Justin DeCrow, Captain John Gaffaney, Specialsit Frederick Greene, Specialist Jason Hunt, Staff Sergeant Amy Krueger, Private 1st Class Aaron Nemelka, Private 1st Class Michael Pearson, Captain Russell Seager, Private 1st Class Francheska Velez, Lieutenant Colonel Juanita Warman and Private 1st Class Kham Xiong."

"We will never forget," he said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16