Monday, August 12, 2013

Medical tech tells macabre details of Hasan attack

Near the center left, the chairs and Station 13 at the Soldier Readiness Center
Click the image to enlarge the image (sketch by Brigitte Woosley)

Ft. Hood – Ted Coukoulis recognized Major Nidal Malik Hasan the moment he saw him.

He had been in his part of the building – the inoculations station – only the week prior and started a big argument over a flu shot.

He couldn't remember what kind of smallpox inoculation he'd had, and if he took a flu shot, he could have had a very bad reaction. As the argument grew more heated, he had Maj. Hasan go to the Officer in Charge to take up the discussion with her.

The bottom line, recalled Mr. Coukoulis was this. Hasan would either have a flu shot, or he wouldn't be able to deploy. Someboy had a problem, and it wasn't the Officer In Charge of the Soldier Readiness Program.

But that wasn't the end of the story.

By the time Nov. 5, 2009, ended, Mr. Coukoulis told the jury of high-ranking officers, he found himself trying to help a pair of female medical technicians treat Lt. Col. Juanita L. Warman – to no avail.

Her back, he explained, was spraying blood from a line of through and through exit wounds that ran down her spine “like a soaker garden hose.”

A witness who testified earlier told jurors how the Colonel told her to let her family know she loved them, and to go on and treat others who could make it. She knew, she told her would-be rescuers, that she was a goner.

But this testimony paled in comparison to Mr. Coukoulis' recollection of watching as Maj. Hasan strolled up to three soldiers who were pinned down point blank in front of a large refrigerator used to store medicines, and casually shot them to death – one – two - three.

He took refuge underneath a desk, and when Hasan returned, he watched as the red tendrils of the laser sight snaked across the floor to find him.

“I opened my mouth and stuck out my tongue. I thought it would be easier to clean up my brains if I had mouth open.”

And then, inexplicably, Hasan raised up and walked away. “Clack, clack, clack,” said Mr. Coukoulis, imitating the sound of Hasan's boots slapping the blood-slickened floor.

Like most of the 18 witnesses who appeared, he, too, thought the shootings were part of a training exercise, “until the smoke started to come in over the dividers” between cubicles. “Then I knew it was real.”

His recollection echos that of Lt. Col. Randy Royer, a National Guard officer from a Birmingham, Alabama, logistics unit that was scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan. He saw three flashes of light out of the corner of his eye and heard someone yell “Allahu Akbar.”

“I thought it was some kind of training scenario. When I seen those flashes of light, I didn't waste no time. North Fort Hood is set up for that. If you've ever been to Fort Hood, you know.”

At that point, “my arm and leg started hurting real bad.”

By that time, it had become “deathly silent” in the building,” said Col. Royer.

In a bizarre twist, a man in a mortar board cap and gown stepped up to him and asked if he could walk. “They'd had some kind of graduation in there,” at the sports dome next door. Some soldiers and some nurses helped give him first aid.

They carried him out on a table.

Specialist Kassidy Givens thought the same thing – a training exercise using live fire blanks, until he bent over to get one of boot laces to use for a tourniquet, and found 3 charred holes in his trouser leg. He was not wounded, but when he looked out the window, he saw a female soldier running a zig zag pattern past the building next door. Puffs of red dust from where the bullets were striking the brick followed her.

Sgt. Mick Engnehel thought his wounds in the tip of a finger on his right hand and a through and through wound that entered the back of his left leg and exited on the right side of his waist were caused by the impact of rubber bullets. Until he put his hand up to his right ear and it came away bloody.

“They didn't give me anything to use for blood. It was my own blood,” he concluded.”

Testimony resumes Tuesday morning, August 13, at 9 a.m.

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