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Fort Hood, Army review lessons learned from shooting

Nov 10, 2010

By Alexandra Hemmerly-Brown

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Nov. 9, 2010) –- Just days after ceremonies marking the one-year anniversary of the Nov. 5 shooting at Fort Hood, Texas, the Army released an internal review citing 79 recommendations to improve security Army-wide.

“In my judgment, there is no question today that we are a stronger Army,” said Secretary of the Army John McHugh Friday during a remembrance ceremony at Fort Hood. “We have learned from the things that enfolded that day, and we are a safer Army.”

“We have made some good progress here,” agreed Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. at the ceremony. “We did some things immediately that we know we needed to do. We launched a team across the Army to share best practices.”

Casey explained three areas that improved in efficiency since last November include threat awareness and reporting, coordination and shared intelligence, and improved training of base security and readiness forces. The Army is already taking action on 66 of the recommendations.

However, he noted, “When you’re in the security business, you’re never done.”

Casey said reliving memories of the massacre is tough.

“This is gut-wrenching and uplifting,” he said of the loss and the uniting of the Army community through the violent incident.

During Friday’s services, 52 Soldiers and civilians received medals for their actions during and after the shooting rampage.

“This day, we say thank you,” McHugh said to the first responders. “Thank you for your quick thinking, thank you for putting others before yourselves, and thank you for those whose lives you saved.”

Awardees at Friday’s ceremony included Fort Hood police officers Kimberly Munley and Sgt. Mark Todd, who fired the shots that took down Maj. Nidal Hasan, wounding him and ultimately ending the massacre. Munley was wounded in the process.

The wife of Capt. John Gaffaney accepted the Soldiers Medal for her husband who was fatally shot after throwing a chair and trying to stop Hasan.

“Months, years, decades from now, whatever the front, whatever the challenge … the Army Family will stop, will remember, and will be sad,” said McHugh of the November 5 anniversary.“It’s a chapter in this Army, that no matter how many tears may fall, will never, never be washed away. It is a part of our history forever.”

“Nov. 5, 2009 is forever etched in the consciousness of Fort Hood, the Army and United States. That day, our home was attacked,” echoed Maj. Gen. William Grimsley, acting senior commander of Fort Hood.

Grimsley noted that while the outcome of the mass shooting evoked pain and loss, the highly-trained Soldiers and civilians who responded to the scene reacted valiantly.

“One fact remains immutable: American heroes under fire, sacrificed their lives and selves, while many others did exactly what you expect them to do,” he said, praising the hasty work of emergency response personnel. “Their actions inspire awe, and reinforce the fact that our Army is full of exceptional people, dedicated to the belief that we live in and serve a great nation.”

McHugh said that there is a “second chapter to this story.” He said it is one of courage, sacrifice, defiance and triumph, where common people were called to do uncommon things.

A Nov. 5 memorial stone engraved with the names of the 13 who died that day, donated by the Central Texas chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army, will be permanently placed at Fort Hood Memorial Park. An inscription on the memorial reads, “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.”

A year ago, Hasan, an Army psychiatrist who often counseled fellow Soldiers with post traumatic stress disorder, walked into building where Soldiers were preparing to deploy and opened fire with a pair of handguns. Hasan killed 12 Soldiers and one civilian, and wounded 32 others before he was shot multiple times by Munley and Todd, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.

He has been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder, and court proceedings are currently underway.

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