By Amanda Kim Stairrett

Killeen Daily Herald

FORT HOOD – Of the 13 killed in Thursday's shooting, four were soldiers from the 36th Engineer Brigade's 20th Engineer Battalion. They were 19-year-old Pfc. Aaron Nemelka, 22-year-old Pfc. Michael Pearson, 23-year-old Spc. Kham Xiong and 29-year-old Spc. Frederick Greene.

Of the 30 wounded, 11 were from the brigade.

Gen. George Casey, Army chief of staff and former 1st Cavalry Division brigade commander, and Army Secretary John McHugh spoke with soldiers and leaders from the engineer brigade Friday at a Fort Hood chapel.

Casey wouldn't specify what other units were involved in Friday's incident, he said 20 were affected "in one way or another."

The 36th Engineer Brigade is led by Col. Kent Savre and has two units at Fort Hood: the 20th and 62nd Engineer Battalions.

Casey talked about stories of "strength and courage," including soldiers at the shooting scene who went back into the line of fire and dragged their buddies out, wounded soldiers treating other wounded soldiers and young men like Pfc. Jeffrey Pearsall of the 20th Engineer Battalion.

The 21-year-old Houston native was in his white 2004 Ford F-150 in the parking lot next to the Soldier Readiness Processing Center Thursday waiting to pick up a friend when he heard commotion. He walked to the building and saw soldiers and civilians running around.

He yelled for some of the wounded to get into his pickup and five jumped in the bed. He sped off toward safety, not knowing one of the injured soldiers fell out. His friend, driving one of the injured soldier's vehicles behind Pearsall, stopped and picked him up.

The soldiers drove to Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center and Pearsall said he banged on the door until nurses and doctors ran out to help them. His friend arrived shortly after.

It has been hard for Pearsall to think about what he saw Thursday and said he has talked to a chaplain.

He was reluctant to accept the "hero" title that many have tried to give him and others who jumped to action last week. Pearsall considered what he did that day his job – what he was trained to do.

Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at or (254) 501-7547.

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