An Amarillo resident and survivor of the Fort Hood mass shooting, which occurred nine years ago, is fondly remembering the lives of five comrades who served alongside her in the 467th Combat Stress Control Detachment and the 1908th Combat Stress Control Detachment.
Reservist Dorothy "Dorrie" Carskadon was shot four times at the Fort Hood Soldier Readiness Processing Center by Nidal Hasan, a U.S. Army Major and psychiatrist who fatally shot 13 people and wounded 30 others, as she waited with other members of the units completing paperwork in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan.
Carskadon, a Veterans Justice Outreach Specialist at the Amarillo VA Healthcare System who is also a Keller Williams real estate agent, still has shrapnel after being grazed in the head, was shot through the hip, sustained a gunshot wound to the leg and was also shot in the stomach. But Carskadon, who earned a Bronze Star in the first Gulf War and joined her fallen and wounded comrades in receiving a Purple Heart in 2013 in the aftermath of the Fort Hood shooting, said her goal is to keep at the forefront the legacies of her colleagues who made the ultimate sacrifice.
"It's my duty to live on for them," she said. "We were all reservists. It was our first day of active duty at Fort Hood, and we'd been there less than 24 hours. We were going through the first segment of the soldier readiness when all of this happened. A lot of special people lost their lives that day, so no matter where I am on Nov. 5, I make certain I share with people how those who have fallen lived. All five of the people from our units that were killed were mental health professionals shot by a psychiatrist."
Carskadon said Maj. Libardo Eduardo Caraveo, whom she said was one of the first casualties, left a lasting impression on everyone he met.
"He worked for the federal government as a clinical psychologist who conducted psychological evaluations on sex offenders," she said. "He had done work at Guantanamo Bay and also owned an inspirational speaker business. During training, he would have all of the officers share an inspirational message with the units to get us fired up and ready for our duties. I'll never forget his drive and determination."
Another unit member, Lt. Col. Juanita Warman, was about to embark upon her final tour of duty and was slated to retire. She served as a sterling example of the teamwork exemplified daily, per Carskadon.
"She actually joined our unit late," Carskadon recalled. "She joined us late in our training, but it didn't take her long to demonstrate that she was dedicated to doing everything in her power to help the team reach its goals. When they found her, she had been shot three times and they were trying to get her out of the area, but she refused treatment in lieu of others. The shooter returned to shoot her a fourth time, and that is what killed her. She volunteered for the mission when others couldn't. These are the type of selfless people with which I am proud to have served."
Staff Sgt. Amy Sue Krueger had already served a tour of duty in Iraq and was preparing to be deployed with Carskadon's unit to Afghanistan.
"She had signed up specifically to go with us because we needed more people," Carskadon said. "I later found out she had a back tattoo that conveyed the message 'All gave some and some gave all'. Very prophetic. She was a very quiet, but highly dependable, person. She was a dedicated professional that enjoyed helping people who were in need."
Cpt. Russell Seager was a psychiatric nurse, while working in the field of psychiatric mental health as an instructor who worked with returning combat personnel.
"He decided he couldn't wait for troops to return and wanted to be on the front end of aiding the cause, so he lost like 150 pounds to get into the military at age 50, as a psychiatric nurse," Carskadon said. "He was shy and really nice. He recognized the need to help those who are dealing with front line combat issues. During training he always provided those words of encouragement that uplifted the unit."
Cpt. John Gaffaney, a psychiatric nurse, was shot as he attempted to charge the shooter.
"He had served in several different branches and had originally been in a tank unit," Carskadon said. "So he was trained as an infantry guy to begin with. When he got out of the military, he went to nursing school, so when the shooter began shooting, his infantry training kicked in. Capt. Gaffaney's first instinct was to run at the shooter. He's another guy who realized there was a need for mental health services in a front line capacity. These are people who should never be forgotten."
This article is written by Douglas Clark from Amarillo Globe-News, Texas and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.