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Funerals being held for some Fort Hood victims

Several victims of the Fort Hood shooting rampage were being remembered Saturday during funeral services.
Image: Funeral procession
The funeral procession of Staff Sgt. Justin DeCrow makes its way through Plymouth, Ind., on Saturday.Jim Rider / South Bend Tribune via AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

In Indiana, hundreds lining the main street of a town Saturday fell solemnly silent as a white hearse passed by on its way to the church. In Wisconsin, mourners streamed into a gymnasium to remember the soldier who once said she alone could take on Osama bin Laden.

Across the country, many stood before several flag-draped coffins during funeral services for several of the 13 victims of the Nov. 5 shootings at the Fort Hood Army post in Texas.

Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, was charged on Thursday with the shooting spree at Fort Hood. Army investigators have said Hasan is the only suspect and could face additional charges.

In Plymouth, Ind., Sheila Ellabarger had placed two foot-high American flags in the grass where she watched the procession for Army Staff Sgt. Justin DeCrow. She said her children went to school with DeCrow and his wife — his high school sweetheart — and she knew other members of his family.

"He was killed by a terrorist in my mind but he was still killed in the line of duty. We owe him a debt of gratitude, him and his family and the other soldiers. We owe them our lives, our freedom," she said.

During services in Norman, Okla., snapshots from U.S. Army Spc. Jason Dean Hunt's recent wedding were projected near his casket. The 22-year-old was described as a loving husband and family man as well as a soldier who left a legacy of selflessness and service.

"We may never find out the reason for what occurred on that fateful day at Fort Hood, Texas," said Ross Ridge, the deputy commanding general at Fort Sill, Okla. "The military community are all grieving here today over the loss of this dedicated soldier."

Gym packed for sergeant
Mourners in Kiel, Wis., packed into the high school gymnasium Saturday for Staff Sgt. Amy Krueger's funeral. A visitation had been held there Friday evening where Krueger, 29, was remembered as a determined, energetic young woman.

She joined the U.S. Army Reserves after the 2001 terrorist attacks and vowed to hunt down bin Laden. When her mother said she couldn't do it alone, the soldier defiantly told her, "Watch me."

Krueger was to deploy to Afghanistan for a second time in December and had recently arrived at Fort Hood for training. She had been studying psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and was a mental health specialist who wanted to help soldiers cope with combat stress.

"Her smile would light up any room, her energy would envelope all of those around her," her parents, Jeri and David Krueger, said in a statement. "It is that smile and that energy that keeps us going throughout this difficult time."

Kiel Mayor Robert Werdeo Jr. said Krueger always wore an Army hat or shirt around town and received a tattoo shortly before leaving for Fort Hood.

With a tattered flag in the background, Krueger's tattoo read: "All gave some. Some gave all. Sacrifice."

Other services
Funerals also were planned Saturday for Capt. John Gaffaney, 56, a psychiatric nurse who worked for San Diego County, Calif.; Pfc. Michael Pearson, 22, of Bolingbrook, Ill., and Pfc. Aaron Thomas Nemelka, 19, of West Jordan, Utah.

Pearson was remembered as a quiet observer and naturally talented musician who liked to share his love of the guitar. During his service, a lone electric guitarist played a mournful rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Utah's congressional delegation, governor and the president of the Mormon church were among those expected to attend services for Nemelka, who carried on a family tradition by joining the Army a little more than a year ago.

"Aaron was a man of few words but deep feelings and a gentle disposition," according to an obituary in Salt Lake City newspapers. "His beautiful smile and cheerful, fun-loving personality endeared him to his many friends and family members."