Monday, November 9, 2009

More On Fort Hood , Sgt. Munley, And Others

We are learning more and more as the days pass since the horrific terrorist attack on Fort Hood this past week- yes, I said it - that's what it is. What else do you call it when someone plots, plans, and carries out an attack on our soil but terrorism? Was not the Oklahoma City bombing terrorism? Regardless of any connections it now appears Hasan had in his Virginia mosque, or not, to try and spin this assault as anything else other than a terrorist attack is simply disingenuous. It makes one wonder just who it serves when people try to frame this as "Contact PTSD," though PTSD is a very real consequence of war, or other traumatic experiences. But "Contact PTSD"? Enough of the excuses. From all that I have seen on this recently (link above), there were a number of red flags, a number of people making complaints about Hasan, concern over his anti-American rhetoric, and yet, for whatever (misguided) reasons, he was allowed to continue his practice.

And that brings us to this article, Heroes Took Huge Risks To Save Others. Not only are we learning more about Hasan as time passes by, but we are learning more about the actions of that tragic day on Fort Hood, and others who acted selflessly. No doubt, the big hero is Sgt. Munley, and I will get to her in just a minute Here is another hero:
Pfc. Marquest Smith, on his way to Afghanistan in January, was completing routine paperwork about a bee-sting allergy when the sounds erupted.

A loud popping noise. Moans. The sudden, urgent shout of "Gun!"

Smith poked his head over the cubicle's partition and saw an extraordinary sight: An Army officer with two guns, firing into the crowded room.

The 21-year-old Fort Worth native quickly grabbed the civilian worker who'd been helping with his paperwork and forced her under the desk. He lay low for several minutes, waiting for the shooter to run out of ammunition and wishing he, too, had a gun.

After the shooter stopped to reload, Smith made a run for it. Pushing two other soldiers in front of him, he made it out of the Soldier Readiness Processing center -- only to plunge into the building twice more to help the wounded.

Smith had survived the worst mass shooting on an American military base, a rampage that left 13 dead and 30 wounded, including the alleged shooter, Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan.

It could have been much worse, but for the heroics of Smith and others -- including the diminutive civilian police officer who single-handedly took down Hasan.

Of course, that would be Sgt. Munley. More on her below as the picture of what happened on Fort Hood gets filled in. A big piece of that is we are getting some information on where the shooting began:
Decisive Action

At the processing center on the southern edge of the 100,000-acre base, soldiers returning from overseas mingled with colleagues filling out forms and undergoing medical tests in preparation for deployment.

Around 1:30 p.m., witnesses say a man authorities later identified as Hasan jumped up on a desk and shouted the words "Allahu Akbar!" -- Arabic for "God is great!" He was armed with two pistols, one a semiautomatic capable of firing up to 20 rounds without reloading.

Packed into cubicles with 5-foot-high dividers, the 300 unarmed soldiers were sitting ducks (emphasis mine). Those who weren't hit by direct fire were struck by rounds ricocheting off the desks and tile floor.

Let's just reflect on that for a minute. Hasan chose an area in which the soldiers were close together. It was like shooting fish in a barrel. That's pretty much what he did after he jumped up onto the desk and started firing. Just picture the logistics of that - man on desk firing on unarmed soldiers (only the MPs and contracted civilian police officers carry guns), 5 foot dividers, 300 soldiers. The potential for mass casualties was set in motion:
When he decided the shooter wasn't close to being out of ammo, Smith made a dash for the door. He'd made it outside when he heard cries from within.

"I don't want to die."

"This really hurts."

"Help me get out of here."

Smith rushed back inside and found two wounded. He grabbed them by their collars and dragged them outside.

Around this time, Fort Hood Police Sgt. Kimberly Munley got the call of "shots fired." The SRP isn't on Munley's beat; she was in the area because her vehicle was in the shop.

Munley, 34, was on the scene within three minutes.

Just over 5 feet tall, Munley is an advanced firearms instructor and civilian member of Fort Hood's special reaction team. She had trained on "active shooter" scenarios after the April 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech. She didn't wait for backup.

As she approached the squat, rectangular building, a soldier emerged from a door with a gunman in pursuit. The officer fired, and the uniformed shooter wheeled and charged.

Munley was hit at least three times in the exchange -- twice through the left leg and once in her right wrist. Hasan was hit four times.

From the first shots to the last, authorities say the whole incident lasted less than 10 minutes.

Sgt. Munley's fast response time, not waiting for backup (I wonder if she'll get lectured about that?), and her willingness to put herself in harm's way saved who-knows-how-many lives. Clearly, her training kicked in, and she did what she was trained to do. This article, Hero 'Civilian Cops' Emerge After Fort Hood Shooting: Sgt. Kimberly Munley Lost So Much Blood Doctors Feared She Wouldn't Survive, goes into even more detail as to what Sgt. Munley did that day (H/T to American Girl in Italy for this article), as well as another police officer, Sgt, Mark Todd:
After Sgt. Kimberly Munley helped stop the Fort Hood massacre by shooting Major Nidal Malik Hasan several times, she collapsed from her wounds and doctors who treated her were afraid she wouldn't survive.

"She was fading in and out of consciousness. She wasn't saying much," medic Francisco de la Serna, who began treating Munley when the shooting stopped, told ABC News.

Munley, a 34-year-old former soldier who became a civilian cop on the Fort Hood base, was shot twice in both legs during Thursday's confrontation. Two powerful "cop killer" rounds allegedly fired by Hasan tore through her left thigh, exited and blasted through her right thigh as well. She was also struck in the wrist.

Sgt. Mark Todd, 42, a retired soldier who also works as a civilian police officer at Ford Hood, also engaged in a firefight with Hasan that lasted less than a minute, according to The Associated Press. Todd was not wounded.

Army officials say that an investigation is under way about whose bullets brought down Hasan as there was much confusion following the shooting. Munley's supervisor initially credited her with the shot that stopped Hasan.

Todd told The Associated Press Saturday that he was unsure if Munley had wounded the suspect, because "once he started firing at me, I lost track of her."

After firing his Beretta at Hasan, Todd said the suspect flinched, slid down against a telephone pole and fell on his back. Todd recalls hearing people say, "two more, two more." He first thought they were referring to more shooters, but he realized that the bystanders were urging him to fire two more rounds, Todd said.

Todd said he approached the suspect and saw that he still had a gun in his hand, which he kicked away. Todd told the AP, "He was breathing, his eyes were blinking. You could tell that he was fading out. He didn't say anything. He was just kind of blinking."

Munley, the mother of two girls, was sped to Metroplex Hospital several miles away where doctors say she lost so much blood that they feared she would not make it.

I suppose we will have to wait to find out exactly whose bullet brought down Hasan - Munley's or Todd's, but there is no dispute that had she not started firing on Hasan, he would have inflicted more damage on the soldiers.

Her wounds were clearly severe, especially after being hit by "cop killer" bullets:
Munley proved to be as tough in the operating room as she was while confronting Hasan in their close-range shootout.

Dr. Kelly Matlock, who treated Munley at the Metroplex Hospital, said her first words in recovery were concern about Hasan's victims.

"She opened her eyes and said, 'Did anybody die?' That's what she said, 'Did anybody die?'" Matlock said.

That pretty much tells you all you need to know about the make up and constitution of this woman. Her first thought, her first question, wasn't about herself, but others. I am in awe.

Sgt. Munley got her question answered:
Munley now knows that the man she shot is alive, and that he is accused of killing 13 unarmed people and wounding 38.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry visited Munley in the hospital today and later described her as "understated."

"She is a classic public servant who is not interested in anything other than getting on with her life," Perry said.

Chuck Medley, the director of emergency services at Fort Hood, said many more would have died if Munley had not leaped into action.

"If she had not responded the way she had, we would have had an extremely high number of dead and injured," Medley told ABC News Friday. "The number of lives that this person saved ... We will probably never know. But there is a lot of ammunition left, a lot of magazines," he said referring to what Hasan was allegedly carrying.

Uh, yeah. That, along with Hasan giving away his worldly goods, screams premeditation to me. No doubt about it.

While much of this has been covered already, the way in which this is written really paints a picture:
Sgt. Kimberly Munley's Shootout With Major Nidal Malik Hasan

Medley described a scenario worthy of a Hollywood script. He said Munley, who is a member of the base's SWAT team and a weapons expert, ran towards the gunfire and came upon Hasan when she rounded a corner and saw him pursuing a soldier who had already been wounded once.

"She fired on him twice and drew the attention toward her. He immediately spun around and charged her," Medley said. "She fired a couple more rounds and fell back, continuing to fire."

Despite getting struck three times by Hasan's fusillade, Munley stayed upright and kept firing at the charging gunman.

Let's stop right there. What kind of person is capable of doing this? What kind of person puts herself in the line of fire to save someone else? What kind of intestinal fortitude must this woman have to STAY UPRIGHT after being seriously hit, firing at the gunman?

I have a close friend who was a police officer at one time before he became a minister. I asked him that question - what makes some people run into danger, be it firefighters, police officers, military personnel, when everyone else is running away as fast as they can? What kind of courage and bravery must someone have to do something like Sgt. Munley? It is hard to fathom. Sure, many of us would like to THINK we would, but honestly - WHO would rush into this situation, size it up, and intentionally put herself in the line of fire to protect others? It is simply remarkable. This breed of human being is rare indeed.

At least according to this report, if it even matters at this point, it was Munley who brought Hasan down (as mentioned above, ballistics will have the final say):
"She struck him a couple times in the upper torso and he went down," Medley said.

"When she rounded that corner she made a split-second decision to put her life at risk," he said.

Lt. Gen. Robert Cone said Munley's aggressive tactics averted even more carnage.

"She had been trained in active response," Cone said. "They had rehearsed scenarios like this. Oftentimes, the idea is you would encircle the building and wait until you have more backup. What the belief is, if you act aggressively, to take the shooter out, you'll have less fatalities."

Munley acted aggressively, not waiting for backup. She went after the gunman and quickly found him. As Cone put it, Munley decided "to seek him out, to confront hm."

Medley said he visited with Munley early Friday. "She's doing very well. She was in good spirits. She was smiling and laughing," he said.

Her boss said he told Munley, "The action you took saved countless peoples' lives. People are healthy, alive and walking around today because of the action that this officer took. She's a hero."

Munley's grandmother, Monirie Metz, told ABC News that the former South Carolina surfer girl would probably object to being called a hero.

"Kim doesn't want be called a hero. She's worried about everyone else right now and is very concerned about her colleagues with whom she is very close," Metz said.

Of course Sgt. Munley would object to being called a hero. After what we have learned about her, who would be surprised by that? Not me. That speaks even more about her remarkable character. Can anyone not be impressed by this woman? I imagine her family is extraordinarily proud of her, as they should be.

Speaking of family:
Her husband, Matthew Munley, is a soldier at Fort Bragg, N.C., and was flown to Fort Hood. She also has two daughters, ages 15 and 2, from a previous marriage.
Needless to say, Sgt. Munley's daring feats are already garnering tributes:
Facebook Tributes to Fort Hood Hero

In the hours after the shootings, two Facebook groups sprung up dedicated to Munley and her heroic actions.

"At that tragic moment you were able to use your training and abilities to bring an end to a day that will haunt the lives of many for years to come," one member posted in the group "God Bless SGT Kimberly Munley." "Thank you for being a true hero."

And in the group "Sgt. Kimberly Munley: A Real American Hero!," one woman stationed in Japan with her military husband said that Munley had inspired her to learn how to shoot once she returned to the U.S.
A true hero indeed - I know she's mine.


Anonymous said...

Okay, I’m about to go on a rant here, catalyzed by a post at another site.

First of all, anyone who says Hasan is not a terrorist is just full of crap. Here is the definition of terrorism under U.S. Law:

United States Law Code – the law that governs the entire country – contains a definition of terrorism embedded in its requirement that Annual Country reports on Terrorism be submitted by the Secretary of State to Congress every year. (From U.S. Code Title 22, Ch.38, Para. 2656f(d)

d(2) - the term “terrorism” means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents

Seems to me Hasan went on a canned hunt, with the prey being unarmed human beings who had no way of defending themselves. They were not in a combatant situation, regardless of whether or not they were soldiers. We’ve seen clearly how premeditated his attack was. And since this attack was conducted in secret, it meets the definition of clandestine. So, by the definition of “terrorism” as set forth by the US Law Code, Hasan is a terrorist who committed a terrorist act.

And please, can we keep the focus on Hasan and not drag Israel into the fray? Whether or not someone wants to paint Israel as being a terrorist state has no fucking relevance to Hasan committing a terrorist act and murdering and wounding dozens of people.

The post in question states we can’t do a lot to prevent rampages like the one at Fort Hood. Maybe not all of them, but we sure as hell can do better than was done. The CIA was aware months ago that there might be a problem with Hasan, but didn’t share that information with the Army? Colleagues of Hasan didn’t report his rants at medical conferences for fear of being accused of profiling? We've become a country so afraid of being called Racist that we turn our heads and pretend we don't see the potential dangers staring us right in the face.

Thank all the powers that be for people like Sgt. Munley and Pfc. Smith and everyone else who put the lives of others before their own. They are the true heroes.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Rant on, my sister, rant on!! Well said!

How the hell does Israel fit anywhere in this discussion of Hasan terrorizing unarmed soldiers at Fort Hood? Seems like a bit of a stretch. Someone needs to learn how to keep their eye on the ball, it seems to me.

Thanks for the definitions, SF. I think that pretty much says it all!