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FORT HOOD, Texas – Lance Aviles choked up as he tried to explain the moment Pfc. Khan Xiong slumped over next to him, dead.

“If you hear this sound, you’ll never forget it, but it’s so hard to describe,” Aviles said. “I see my battle buddy on the floor.”

Spc. Meagan Martin cried as she remembered seeing the soldier she had just been teasing about his seahorse arm patch bend forward.

“All this blood started coming out of his mouth,” she said. “I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is real.’”

Sgt. Monique Archuletta was overcome with emotion as she recalled hearing Lt. Col. Juanita Warman, a woman she had deployed to Germany with, say, “I’m not going to make it. I’m going to die.”

“I remember saying, ‘Don’t say that… you have your grandkids. Don’t say that.’

As witness after witness described the horror at Fort Hood on Nov. 5, 2009, and family members of the victims supported each other in the gallery, a pale, frail-looking Maj. Nidal Hasan kept his head down, glancing up only occasionally.

The Army psychiatrist, paralyzed from the waist down after being shot by police, is charged with killing 13 people and wounding 32 others in the mass shooting at a base clinic.

He opened the trial saying the evidence would show he was the shooter. He has been mostly quiet since.

He has asked only a handful of questions of a few witnesses – none of them shooting victims – and Thursday offered his first objection, asking a judge to remind Sgt. 1st Class Maria Guerra she was under oath.

Guerra had just described hearing a woman say, “Please don’t, please don’t, my baby, my baby,” followed by gunshots. She didn’t hear the voice again, she said.

Hasan was wheeled into the courtroom wearing an Army-issue green fleece cap, with a sweater under his ACUs, despite the triple-digit temperatures outside. As he looked down at papers in front of him, he softly stroked his frizzy, graying beard.

He looked away as Aviles was asked to identify the shooter.

“He looks like [expletive], but I see him,” Aviles said, as one woman in the gallery gasped. The comment was struck from the official court record, and Aviles later pointed to Hasan with both hands to identify him.

Amber Bahr Gadlin said she low-crawled out of the bloody waiting room, dragged a fellow soldier into the parking lot and helped carry another into the hospital. It wasn’t until she went to sit down at the hospital that she felt the sharp pain in her back. She had been shot, too.

As the shooter canvassed the clinic, Guerra said she barricaded herself and a few others inside their office. She briefly ran out of the building, but stopped short when she realized she should be helping the wounded inside.

When she saw others working on the dead, she yelled at them to move on to others who might be able to be saved.

Then, she grabbed a black marker.

“I went over to Spc. (Aaron) Nemelka and put a D on his forehead and I looked at my watch and it was 13:25. So I marked, ‘D, 13:25.’” Then she moved on to Mike Cahill and Sgt. Amy Krueger.

Running to get bandages, Guerra saw a civilian nurse crying hysterically as she held Warman’s hand.

“She said, ‘I can’t do this.’ I said, you can do this. Do not leave her,” Guerra said.

hlad.jennifer@stripes.com Twitter: @jhlad


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