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Fort Jackson reaction: Most see shootings as isolated act

U.S. Army  Drill sergeants Danny Hembree, front, Cedric Gustave and Russell Cleveland observe a moment of silence  at Fort Jackson to honor the soldiers hurt and killed in Thursday's shooting at Ft. Hood. New recruits in the 120th Adjutant General (Reception) Battalion at Fort Jackson observed a moment of silence and the American Flag was raised to half staff.
U.S. Army Drill sergeants Danny Hembree, front, Cedric Gustave and Russell Cleveland observe a moment of silence at Fort Jackson to honor the soldiers hurt and killed in Thursday's shooting at Ft. Hood. New recruits in the 120th Adjutant General (Reception) Battalion at Fort Jackson observed a moment of silence and the American Flag was raised to half staff.

A day after a deadly rampage at an Army post in Texas, soldiers at Columbia's Fort Jackson held a moment of silence to remember the victims, while offering mixed reactions to the shootings.

Most said Friday they considered the incident at Fort Hood to be a random act unlikely to be repeated anytime soon.

Others wondered if something similar could happen at Fort Jackson. A fort spokesman said Friday that military police have increased security patrols, but officials have not restricted traffic entering the base.

Several wondered aloud how the U.S. Army let alleged shooter Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan slip through the cracks.

"He's Muslim. That should have given them some idea," said Sgt. Cherly Jasmin outside the Wal-Mart shopping center on Forest Drive just beyond Fort Jackson's main gate. "And he didn't want to go down range (be deployed). That should have been another sign."

For Fort Jackson drill sergeant Garret Brunton of Lancaster, Ohio, "it's too soon to tell" what any fallout might be.

"Obviously, it's a concern," he said. "But this was the act of an individual and shouldn't cause a lot of repercussions."

Army leaders also advised new soldiers not to joke about shooting anyone or blame Muslims for the massacre.

Jasmin, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said she had friends stationed at Fort Hood, where authorities believe Hasan, 39, killed 13 people and wounded 31 others.

"I called them right away and everyone was fine," she said. "But you never know. It could happen here, too. I think they should tighten up security, tighten up letting people on post."

Army Chief of Staff George Casey also asked Army leaders across the country to review force protection measures.

Paul Anderson, who was visiting Fort Jackson from Utah to attend basic training graduation ceremonies for his son-in-law, wondered how Hasan slipped through security.

"How did he have a gun and live ammo?" said the six-year Army veteran.

That, too, concerned Pvt. Michael Hermosa of Dallas, who also had just graduated from basic training.

"I think they should check people coming onto the base a little tighter than they do," he said.

Hermosa added that soldiers in his unit had been admonished not to joke about killing anyone.

"They said the Army would take that very seriously," he said.

Across Fort Jackson on Friday, a moment of silence ordered by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, was observed at 2:34 p.m., exactly 24 hours after the Texas shootings.

More than 400 soldiers stood in formation outside the 120th Adjutant General Battalion headquarters, as drill sergeants lowered the U.S. flag to half-staff in memory of the fallen.

The 120th is the entry point for all recruits reporting to Fort Jackson to begin basic combat training. It's the place where new soldiers receive physical and psychological examinations, and are outfitted in uniforms.

The 120th's commander, Lt. Col. Michael Bineham, said it's incomprehensible that a soldier would attack fellow troops.

But he added that it has happened before. Bineham said he was at Fort Bragg, N.C., in October 1995 when Sgt. William Kreutzer Jr. opened fire on his brigade, killing one and wounding more than a dozen.

"I feel for the families who have lost loved ones," Bineham said.

Bineham cautioned against stereotyping Muslims just because the accused shooter, a psychiatrist, reportedly is a follower of Islam. The suspect reportedly voiced objections to the U.S. military fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Bineham noted that there are about 3,500 Muslims honorably serving in the U.S. military, including those who are Arabic interpreters trained at Fort Jackson.

Across Fort Jackson on Friday, the Army's largest training center, it was evident that soldiers were concerned about the Texas shootings.

"You can tell it's on people's minds and in their spirits. They're just concerned about the (Army) family at Fort Hood," said Maj. James Smith, chaplain of the post's Family Life Center.

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