Before Maj. Nidal Hassan was sentenced to death on Wednesday, more victims’ families and survivors told their stories on Tuesday about life after the November 5, 2009 shooting.
Phillip Warman lost his wife, Lt. Col. Juanita Warman, at Fort Hood. He turned to alcohol to cope with the grief. A friend took away a weapon just in case; Warman said he did not trust himself. He decided to give up alcohol and joined AA. He takes the coins from his AA meetings and brings them to his wife’s grave.
Mari Kay Decrow told the panel about her life with husband, Staff Sgt. Justin Decrow. They met in the second grade, went to prom, got married, and had a baby. Unfortunately, their daughter is still having a hard time in school. She misses her husband, the flowers he would send her, and his phone calls.
Joleen Cahill was married to civilian physician assistant Michael G. Cahill for 37 years. She told them he was very close to the troops and would take the time to make sure all soldiers received the right treatment. She and the children still call his phone to hear his voice on the voicemail message. She said his favorite room was the den and she has not touched it since that dreadful day. She swore Hasan would not win:
“The shooting is not going to destroy my life or my children’s. He is not going to win. I am in control,” said Joleen Cahill, whose husband, retired Chief Warrant Officer Michael Cahill, was one of 13 people murdered by Hasan at the central Texas military base.
Jerri Krueger’s daughter, Amy Krueger, told her mom on September 11, 2001 she was going to join the Army:
“She said, ‘Mom, I’m joining the Army.’ I told her she couldn’t fight bin Laden all by herself, and she said, ‘Watch me.'”
Krueger and her best friend enlisted the next day, and she had aspired to be a clinical psychologist.
“When a parent loses a child,” said Jerri Krueger, “it creates an irreplaceable void. I live with that every day.”
Sheryll Pearson lost her son, Pfc. Michael Pearson, on that day. He was her best friend, and she cried when she told the panel she learned he died while undergoing emergency surgery:
“The phone rang and I knew that Michael was gone,” she said, emotion cracking her voice. “We always wanted to see who he was going to be, who he was going to become, and that was taken from us.”
Lt. Col. Randy Royer, a reservist, survived the attack:
“I have mental issues; I take anxiety medication,” he told the panel Tuesday. He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, and dealing with crowds is especially tough. Visiting the local pharmacy, where chairs line the counter, reminds him of the setup at the center where the killings occurred. “I don’t do well with that,” he said softly.
A military panel found Hasan guilty of 13 premeditated murder, as well as multiple premeditated attempted murder charges. The prosecution spent Monday and Tuesday allowing the victims to tell their stories; Hasan rested without any defense. The panel sentenced him to death on Wednesday.