Killeen Daily Herald
Herald staff writer
March 16, 2016
Gabe Wolf | Herald Ft Hood Memorial-4 Ashlee Nemelka and Kevin Harmer visit PFC. Aaron Nemelka's bronze Friday at the Fort Hood Memorial dedication.KILLEEN — Three small boys, all children or grandchildren of those killed on Nov. 5, 2009, approached the stage as about 800 people quietly watched.
They placed their hands over their hearts and began to speak in unison: “I pledge allegiance to the flag...” The audience quickly joined in, creating a resounding, unifying “Pledge of Allegiance” inside the Killeen Civic and Conference Center on Friday.
It was one many emotional, yet also patriotic, moments that marked the long-awaited dedication ceremony of the November 5, 2009, Memorial, which honors the 12 soldiers and 1 civilian who were killed and dozens wounded in the mass shooting that day.
“The memorial itself will always be a sobering reminder of what we lost,” said Maj. Gen. John Uberti, deputy commander for III Corps and Fort Hood.
He was one of several speakers at the nearly three-hour event, which ended with the families of the fallen, the wounded and others visiting the memorial adjacent to the conference center.
The $400,000 memorial — which was paid for through donations and in-kind services — includes a gazebo, 13 statues symbolizing those killed and a flag pole in the center.
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Living in pain: For some wounded on Nov. 5, 2009, fight for benefits continues
Shawn Manning and Alonzo Lunsford Jr. — both former staff sergeants who were shot multiple times by Nidal Hasan — said despite earning the federal Purple Heart medals last April, their struggles with the government’s lack of labeling their wounds as “combat related” remain.
They said the pain they live with is an everyday reminder of what happened.
“I just had surgery last summer to remove a bullet out of my thigh and a bullet out of my back,” said Manning, who in addition to physical pain, also deals with post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from the shooting. “I still have a bullet in my back,” Lunsford said. “It cant be removed because it’s so close to my spine.” He, too, has complications from lingering pain and PTSD, as well as a traumatic brain injury from a bullet that hit close to one of his eyes.