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Nov. 5-6 events help Fort Hood honor, celebrate service

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Posted: Sunday, October 17, 2010 12:00 pm | Updated: 9:18 am, Thu Aug 16, 2012.

By Amanda Kim Stairrett

Killeen Daily Herald

The Fort Hood community will honor and celebrate service and sacrifice Nov. 5 and 6 as the post observes the one-year anniversary of the Nov. 5 shooting at the Soldier Readiness Processing Center.

The post will host an awards ceremony Nov. 5, recognizing about 70 soldiers and civilians "who went above and beyond the call of duty" during and after the shooting. Capt. John P. Gaffaney's family is set to receive the Soldier's Medal in his honor. It was revealed the National Guard officer was shot and killed Nov. 5 when attempting to charge the shooter and take him down.

Many of those wounded and the families of the fallen will be in attendance, said Maj. Gen. William Grimsley, Fort Hood's senior commander.

Military and local Association of the U.S. Army officials will also unveil a memorial stone at the post's Memorial Park.

A remembrance service will begin at 1 p.m. to honor Gaffaney, Lt. Col. Juanita L. Warman, Maj. Libardo Caraveo, Capt. Russell Seager, Staff Sgt. Justin Decrow, Sgt. Amy Krueger, Spc. Jason Hunt, Spc. Frederick Greene, Pfc. Aaron Nemelka, Pfc. Michael Pearson, Spc. Kham Xiong, Pvt. Francheska Velez and retired Chief Warrant Officer Michael Cahill - the 13 killed Nov. 5.

The public is invited to attend the hour-long service at Cameron Field, located on Battalion Avenue between 25th and 27th Streets.

The ceremony will include a moment of silence and conclude with a retreat ceremony, in which Fort Hood flags will be lowered for the day and taps will be played. All soldiers will be released for the day following the service.

The duty day is set to end at the time the shooting started, Grimsley said.

A ceremony near the Killeen Civic and Conference Center will follow. The concept for a memorial garden will be unveiled by city and SPJST officials. SPJST is a local civic organization that spearheaded the project.

"The memorial will remind the state, the nation and the world to never forget the sacrifices made by those who were in the line of fire," according to www.spjst.org/memorialgarden.html.

The ceremony starts at 4:30 p.m.

Run to Remember

Nov. 6 will kick off with a Run to Remember, an idea conceived by Jessica Hansen, the fiancée of Staff Sgt. Patrick Zeigler, one of those injured Nov. 5.

The concept began as a way to do something uplifting and positive in honor of those killed and wounded, said Grimsley, and grew to include more than 500 from Fort Hood who have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That's a lot of loss, Grimsley said, and it was important to remember those people in a positive way.

The event includes a half marathon - which happens to be 13.5 miles, a mile for each killed Nov. 5, Grimsley pointed out - a 5k run/walk and a 1-mile fun walk.

The public is invited to participate and Grimsley said it was the place those in the surrounding communities should show tangible support to the soldiers and surviving family members.

To register for Run to Remember, go to www.hoodmwr.com.

Rock the Hood

After running, it's time for rocking.

Rock the Hood begins at noon Nov. 6 and is set to last through 8 p.m. at Sadowski Field, the parade field on Tank Destroyer Boulevard in front of III Corps headquarters.

The event includes a series of performances by Puddle of Mudd, Chris Cagle, Elvis Crespo, Nas and Flyleaf.

Rock the Hood is similar to last year's Community Strong concert and event, and is intended to uplift the spirits of the Fort Hood community, Grimsley said.

Rock the Hood is free and open to the public. A shuttle service will be available for those who park in designated lots on post, according to information from the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

For more information on Rock the Hood, call (254) 286-5342.

'Connect spiritually'

The Article 32 hearing for the man charged with the Nov. 5 shooting, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, began Tuesday. It is set to go through the end of the month before resuming Nov. 8.

The officer presiding over the hearing recently ruled that the Article 32 would break in the days surrounding the one-year anniversary.

It is an important mark in the history of Fort Hood and Central Texas that "we all pause to reflect," Grimsley said. It's an opportunity to connect spiritually and bring the community back together, he said.

It is imperative for victims' family members to know that their loved ones' sacrifices were not in vain, said Leila Hunt Willingham, whose brother, Spc. Jason Hunt, was among the 13 victims.

"A humble infantryman like my brother would never seek glory or attention, but when people continue to focus on the man accused of taking 13 lives and nearly forget about the 13 lives themselves, it is insulting," she said.

"If people recognize the murder, please also honor those murdered."

Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at astair@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7547. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary or www.facebook.com/astairrett.

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