Former Army mechanic Mick Engnehl, 23, doesn’t know if he will ever again turn wrenches like he used to.
Two bullets during the Nov. 5, 2009, Fort Hood shooting took away 85 percent of the movement in his right arm.
Outside of mechanic work, there’s nothing else he wants to do, he said.
Engnehl is set to testify against accused Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan at a court-martial beset by legal stops and starts for 3½ years.
“Everybody still has to suffer,” Engnehl said. “All the victims want to do is just move on with their lives. It’s just one of those things that needs to be done and done with.”
Engnehl’s wife, Autumn Engnehl, said the victims and their families are fed up with the trial and all of the public attention Hasan has received.
“It just brings up old memories that people don’t want to think about anymore,” Autumn Engnehl said.
“Whenever the trial takes a step forward, he takes two steps back.”
‘Meant to be’
The young couple was just days away from their wedding when the shooting occurred.
Engnehl was supposed to deploy with the 36th Engineer Brigade on Jan. 19, 2010, and had gone to the Soldier Readiness Processing Center to finalize his paperwork and finish his medical examinations.
“He was supposed to be at the shooting range that day,” Autumn Engnehl said.
Looking back on the events leading up to the mass shooting, which left four members of the 36th Engineers dead and 11 more wounded, Engnehl said he could have avoided being at the processing center at that day and time. “There were so many things that should have been a certain way and they weren’t,” he said. “It was pretty much meant to be.”
Engnehl enlisted in the Army in summer 2008 after graduating from high school in rural Lunenburg County, Va.
On Nov. 5, 2009, his platoon was supposed to go to the gun range. However, when they went to pick up their guns, the weapons had been assembled improperly.
Commanders told the soldiers to take the rest of the day to finish up paperwork and prepare for deployment.
After Engnehl arrived at the center around 11 a.m., nurses inoculated him for small pox and, with long lines at the final processing station, he went to lunch with a friend.
The soldiers returned to long lines a little after 1 p.m., although they could have waited longer, Engnehl said.
Standing in line at Station 13, “the final out,” Engnehl heard a man yelling behind the paper walls of the cubicles: “Allahu Akbar” — Arabic for God is great. Then the gunshots came.
“We dropped to a low crawl position, like we had been taught, and hid behind the wall,” Engnehl said.
“I was exposed the whole time.”
Bullets were ricocheting and hitting people, he said. There was nowhere to hide. “You’ve heard of shooting fish in a barrel,” Engnehl said. “He had both exits covered.”
While lying in the low crawl position, he saw a flash. A bullet slipped down the front of his shirt, entering his neck and bouncing around inside his shoulder.
It severed an artery in his neck before a second bullet hit him in the back.
In danger of bleeding to death, Engnehl went to the aid of Pvt. Francheska Velez, who had been mortally wounded.
As blood sprayed from his neck, Engnehl said he heard a voice in the background: “If you want to live, you have to stand up and get out of here.”
Though the gunman was still firing, emergency responders began rushing Engnehl, now covered in his own blood, to an ambulance, which was being shot at by the shooter, he said.
Engnehl was later airlifted to Scott & White Hospital in Temple, where he stayed for several days in the room next door to Hasan, according to court documents.
The Army discharged Engnehl in May 2011 because the paralysis in his arm left him unable to work as a generator mechanic.
He said last week that it has been so long since the shooting, he doesn’t remember what it is like to have two fully functioning arms.
“It’s pretty much (why) I have to be smarter. Think smarter,” Engnehl said.
“Everything happens for a reason. There’s a reason I got shot; I just haven’t figured it out yet.”
Contact Brandon Janes at email@example.com or (254) 501-7552