by Patrick Svitek, The Texas Tribune – April 9, 2015
Texas’ top elected officials are convening Friday at Fort Hood to help award Purple Heart medals to victims of the 2009 shooting there, the culmination of a years-long push to make them eligible for the decoration.
Fort Hood officials plan to present more than 40 Purple Hearts and its civilian version, the Defense of Freedom Medal. The recipients are scheduled to be revealed three hours before the 9 a.m. ceremony.
Gov. Greg Abbott is set to attend the event as well as members of Texas’ congressional delegation who championed legislation paving the way for the awards. The lawmakers include U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, and U.S. Reps. John Carter, Bill Flores, Roger Williams, Michael McCaul and Louie Gohmert.
Thirteen people were killed and dozens more wounded in former Maj. Nidal Hasan’s rampage on Nov. 5, 2009, at the military base in Killeen. He was sentenced to death in 2013 for the shooting spree.
Federal authorities initially classified the incident as workplace violence, and victims and their supporters spent years trying to convince the government to call the act terrorism so they could qualify for the Purple Heart and benefits that come with it. Hasan has said he planned the attack as a way of protecting Muslim insurgents abroad.
The victims received a major boost last year when Congress passed a defense spending bill that included a provision backed by Texas legislators expanding the eligibility requirements for the medal. In February, the Army said it was ready to give the Purple Heart to the victims.
Cruz, a 2016 presidential candidate, reiterated his belief Thursday that the recognition is long overdue.
“This attack was a clear act of radical Islamic terrorism, conducted on American soil — the original decision to designate it ‘workplace violence’ and deny these honors was a betrayal of the sacrifice of each of the victims,” Cruz said in a statement. “We can never undo the events of that day, but we can properly honor the courageous patriots who protect our nation and remain forever grateful for them.”
Here are the names of those being honored:
Purple Heart (Wounded in Action)
Maj. Randy Royer
Capt. Dorothy Carskadon
2nd. Lt. Brandy Mason
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Christopher Royal
Staff Sgt. Michael Davis
Staff Sgt. Alvin Howard
Staff Sgt. Eric Jackson
Staff Sgt. Shawn Manning
Staff Sgt. Paul Martin
Staff Sgt. Joy Clark (Nelson)
Staff Sgt. Thuan Nguyen
Staff Sgt. Miguel Valdivia
Staff Sgt. Patrick Zeigler, Jr.
Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford, Jr.
Cpl. Nathan Hewitt
Spc. Keara Torkelson (Bono)
Spc. Logan Burnett
Spc. Dayna Roscoe (Ferguson)
Spc. Grant Moxon
Spc. John Pagel
Pfc. James Armstrong
Pfc. Mick Engnehl
Pfc. Jonathan Sims
Pvt. Joseph Foster
Pvt. Najee Hull
Pvt. Amber Gadlin (Bahr)
Defense of Freedom Medal (Wounded in Action)
Purple Heart (Killed in Action)
Lt. Col. Juanita Warman
Maj. Libardo Caraveo
Capt. John Gaffaney
Staff Sgt. Justin DeCrow
Staff Sgt. Amy Krueger
Spc. Frederick Greene
Spc. Jason Hunt
Pfc. Aaron Nemelka
Pfc. Michael Pearson
Pfc. Francheska Velez
Defense of Freedom Medal (Killed in Action)
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2015/04/09/fort-hood-victims-be-awarded-purple-heart-medals/.