10 years ago: the Fort Hood massacre

On Nov. 5, 2009, Army major and psychiatrist Nidal Hasan opened fire at Fort Hood near Killeen, Texas. The shooting happened in and around the Soldier Readiness Processing Center, injuring 32 people and killing 13. In 2013, Hasan was court-martialed and sentenced to death. He is imprisoned at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Tuesday marks the 10-year anniversary of the attack at Fort Hood, Texas, that left 13 people dead and more than 30 wounded.

On Nov. 5, 2009, Maj. Nidal Hasan, 39, entered a readiness processing center on post and opened fire using a handgun fitted with a laser sight on unarmed soldiers and civilians preparing for deployments.

Hasan, then an Army psychiatrist, was also due to deploy to Afghanistan.

He was ultimately convicted during a court-martial in August 2013 of 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder.

He is one of four death row inmates in the military justice system, awaiting execution at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks on Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Hasan’s shooting spree sparked a conversation about the difference between attacks sponsored by terror organizations and those that are simply “inspired” by such groups, a distinction underscored roughly five years later as ISIS-inspired attacks rose in frequency.

Vice President Mike Pence spoke to troops at Fort Hood on Oct. 29 and visited a memorial to those killed in the shooting.

“When I arrived last night, I stopped and paid my respects at the Fort Hood Nov. 5 Memorial,” Pence said. “I walked by the columns dedicated — each individual one — to the 13 men and women who fell that day. And I was deeply moved — moved by the tributes to all of those that were lost.”

A stone memorial stands in honor of those killed during the Nov. 5, 2009, shootings at Fort Hood, Texas. (Master Sgt. Jacob Caldwell/Army)
A stone memorial stands in honor of those killed during the Nov. 5, 2009, shootings at Fort Hood, Texas. (Master Sgt. Jacob Caldwell/Army)

“Like Staff Sgt. Amy Krueger, who was preparing for a tour of duty in Afghanistan before that fateful day,” Pence added. “Or Spc. Jason Dean Hunt, who had just gotten married two months before. Or Pfc. Francheska Velez, who had just returned from a tour of duty in Iraq and was expecting her first child.”

Those killed in the attack:

  • Michael Grant Cahill, 62, civilian physician assistant, retired chief warrant officer.
  • Libardo Eduardo Caraveo, 52, major.
  • Justin Michael DeCrow, 32, staff sergeant.
  • John P. Gaffaney, 56, captain.
  • Frederick Greene, 29, specialist.
  • Jason Dean Hunt, 22, specialist.
  • Amy Sue Krueger, 29, sergeant.
  • Aaron Thomas Nemelka, 19, private first class.
  • Michael S. Pearson, 22, private first class.
  • Russell Gilbert Seager, 51, captain.
  • Francheska Velez, 21, private first class.
  • Juanita L. Warman, 55, lieutenant colonel.
  • Kham See Xiong, 23, private first class.

The victims of the shooting were awarded Purple Hearts in 2015, after an intervention by Congress.

Legislators added an amendment to the 2015 defense spending bill that extended Purple Heart eligibility to attacks in which an individual “was in communication with the foreign terrorist organization before the attack,” and was “inspired or motivated” by a terror group.

Hasan was known to be in communication with the Yemeni-American imam Anwar al-Awlaki, an infamous al-Qaida propagandist, prior to carrying out his attack. Awlaki never gave Hasan any explicit directives and the Army major’s radicalization likely began earlier than his emails with the cleric, according to a 2018 review of Hasan’s case by George Washington University’s Program on Extremism.

Awlaki was ultimately killed by drone-launched Hellfire missiles in September 2011.

During his visit to Fort Hood last week, Pence also addressed the families of those killed in the attack and the more than 30 wounded survivors.

“The American people are with you, and this nation will never forget or fail to honor the service and sacrifice of our heroes who fell on November 5, 2009," Pence said.