Gatesville Citizens Embrace Reservists Affected by Shooting
By U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Tony M. Lindback
Special to American Forces Press Service
GATESVILLE, Texas, Nov. 12, 2009 The citizens of the “Spur Capital of Texas” here opened their arms and hearts to Army Reserve soldiers affected by the Nov. 5 Fort Hood shooting by hosting them for dinner at a local restaurant Nov. 8.
The community of Gatesville, Texas, hosted a dinner at the Prima Pasta restaurant for Army Reserve soldiers affected by the Nov. 5 shootings on Fort Hood, Nov. 8, 2009. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Tony Lindback
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“It is absolutely wonderful to see all these folks together and to show our appreciation for what they do daily,” said Carla Manning, a military affairs representative for the Gatesville Chamber of Commerce. “They sacrifice daily, and they’ve been through some rough days recently.”
The soldiers are assigned to the 1908th and 467th Medical Detachments, reserve units from Kansas and Wisconsin respectively, but include soldiers from other states as well. Members of the two detachments have been preparing at Fort Hood, Texas, for deployments. Together, the units have fewer than 70 members, and of those five were fatally shot and 25 were injured when a lone gunman opened fire Nov. 5 at the Soldier Readiness Processing Center on Fort Hood. Eight of the wounded soldiers remained hospitalized the night of the dinner.
“Most of the time you see loss on the battlefield,” said Spc. Thomas Vecera, a mental health specialist with the 467th Medical Detachment. “This incident just took everyone by surprise, but we were still able to pull together and be strong. (The dinner is) exactly what the soldiers needed. Getting out like this is great. The community is great.”
Gatesville Chamber of Commerce president Gail Shelton said the Army, is a very important and worthy partner with her community, which has a population of about 15,000 and is located just outside the North Fort Hood gate.
“Everybody has wanted to chip in in this community in any way to help these soldiers in their time of need,” Shelton said.
Gatesville hosted the soldiers at the Prima Pasta restaurant, which is owned by Jashar Hoti. “I don’t think we could ever do enough for the Soldiers, compared to the sacrifices they make for us and our country,” he said.
The meal provided a semblance of home to soldiers away from their loved ones, said Staff Sgt. Nicolle Brossard, a mental health specialist with the 467th Medical Detachment.
“I feel that few people genuinely get to experience (the love that has been given to us) in their lifetimes,” Brossard said.
“To have an outpouring from a community that cares for us … in this tragic incident … is just phenomenal. I am so appreciative for their kindness.”
(U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Tony M. Lindback is assigned to the 1st Army Division West Public Affairs office.)