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Obama Heads To Fort Hood Memorial Service


Our coverage begins there with NPR's Wade Goodwyn.

WADE GOODWYN: In just two days, the Army has erected a giant barrier in front of the post headquarters. It's made up of hundreds of railroad-car-sized containers that have been stacked three high to provide President Obama and the memorial service security and privacy. While the ceremony will be televised across the nation, General Robert Cone, the post commander, says the service will really be for the families of the wounded and killed, and the men and women who were directly affected by the shooting.

L: The ceremony will be our traditional memorial service. And so it will be familiar and comfortable to many of our soldiers. The added benefit, of course, is the significance of having the president of the United States here, and all that that represents in terms of the importance of the Fort Hood community, our mission, and the importance of our families and these families of the fallen soldiers.

GOODWYN: General Cone estimates that 600 soldiers and civilians were affected by the attack, either were at the Readiness Center when the shooting occurred, or were involved in rescuing, transporting, and treating the wounded. The Army will be offering counseling to all. The general emphasized that Fort Hood is no stranger to deaths in the family.

L: The person who is most prepared to deal with this are the soldiers. This is what we do. Many of us are used to being in theater, and something like this happens. We do the memorial service, we send our comrades home, and then we move on with the mission.

GOODWYN: But moving on with the mission does not mean the Army is not deeply unsettled by the fratricide.

L: I think what's really important is that Hasan was a soldier. We have other soldiers that might have some of the same stress and indicators that he has, and we have to look across our entire formation, not just in a medical community, but really look hard to our right and left. And that's a responsibility of everybody from the top to the bottom.

GOODWYN: If the generals are thinking about damage control, the rank and file are getting back to work, but there is an awareness now that the violence doesn't have to wait for a soldier's arrival in Iraq or Afghanistan. Sergeant Tina Bonicorrie(ph) is a security NCO for III Corps.

INSKEEP: It was very shocking. A lot of people cannot believe that one of our own, and not only one of our own, but an officer, could do this to innocent people that were getting ready to deploy, or coming back from deployment.

GOODWYN: Specialist Jermaine Lee(ph), signal support, is getting ready to be deployed to Iraq in February. Ask Specialist Lee what's on his mind and he is succinct.

INSKEEP: Go there, take care of my job for the time I have to, and make it back home safe, sir.

GOODWYN: Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, Killeen, Texas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Wade Goodwyn is an NPR National Desk Correspondent covering Texas and the surrounding states.