Eighth Army major receives medal for Fort Hood response
An Eighth Army officer was awarded the Soldier's Medal Nov. 5 during a ceremony at Fort Hood, Texas, for his actions during the Nov. 5, 2009 shooting incident there that left 13 Soldiers dead and 32 wounded.
Maj. Steven J. Richter, chief of medical logistics for Eighth Army, was assigned as the chief of operations and deployment medicine at Fort Hood when Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is accused of opening fire at the Soldier Readiness Processing Center.
Richter testified during Hasan's Article 32 hearing Oct. 20 via tele-conference about his actions that day.
Richter, who had been assigned to the processing center for 10 months, heard the shots in the building and at first thought it was a drill of some sort.
"I thought I had been left out of the loop of a training exercise that was taking place," said Richter. "I called my boss and he told me that there was no scheduled training exercise."
He moved to the sound of the shots and directed people out of the building while he tried to make sense of what was happening. Once outside the building himself, he said he saw Hasan firing a weapon.
The shooter began to move toward Richter and aimed the weapon at him. A nearby police officer fired at Hasan, seriously injuring him, putting an end to the attack.
During his testimony, Richter said he saw the gunman fall to the ground and he was worried there was another gunman. He grabbed Hasan's weapon but the gun was jammed and Richter was unable to clear the weapon. Worried about being confused for the shooter, Richter dropped the weapon, stood and waited for the police to reach him.
As police secured Hasan, Richter immediately began treating Hasan's wounds. He opened his shirt and attempted to stop the bleeding by sticking his index finger in the bullet hole.
The South Dakota native and graduate of South Dakota State University didn't know if he merited the award for his actions, saying that was for others to decide. He did, however, praise his fellow Soldiers for their efforts.
"They were Soldiers doing what Soldiers are trained to do," he said, "I couldn't have asked for better people and resources to help treat the injured."
Richter was assigned to Eighth Army in June. He travelled to Fort Hood Nov. 2 with his wife and 14-month-old son and two-week-old daughter to attend the award ceremony.
The hour-long ceremony was held on the first anniversary of the shooting and recognized about 70 Soldiers and civilians who went above the call of duty during and after the shooting.
Richter and six other Soldiers received the Soldier's Medal from Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh and Maj. Gen. William Grimsley, Fort Hood's commanding general. An eighth Soldier's Medal was presented to Capt. John P. Gaffaney's family. Gaffaney, who worked with Richter, was killed in the attack.
The Soldier's Medal is the highest award for heroism not involving conflict with an enemy and is awarded to those who distinguish themselves through voluntary action above and beyond the call of duty.
Article by Capt. Jay Taylor, Eighth Army Public Affairs