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Fort Hood victims: Sons, a daughter, a mother-to-be

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Kham Xiong, 23, remembered as "a loving person"
  • "What hurts the most is that one of her own killed her," says Francheska Velez's father
  • Spc. Jason Dean Hunt "wanted to serve other people," his sister says
  • Sheryll Pearson, mother of slain soldier Pfc. Michael Pearson says: "We're all very angry"

Fort Hood, Texas (CNN) -- Thirteen people died after a mass shooting Thursday at Fort Hood, a sprawling Army post in Texas. Here's a look at the victims.

Chief Warrant Officer Michael Grant Cahill (Ret.), Cameron, Texas

Michael Cahill, 62, liked his job as a physician's assistant at Fort Hood so much that he only took one week of recovery time after undergoing heart surgery, his sister told CNN affiliate KREM.

Cahill, who served in the Army Reserve, previously worked as a registered nurse, Marilyn Attebery told KREM. He later returned to school to pursue a career as a physician's assistant, she said. Cahill was assisting with physicals for soldiers preparing for deployment at the time of the shooting, his sister said.

"I'm just upset for all the families and for what went on here. They're talking about wars and show wars and it's right there in Fort Hood and it's just devastating to everybody and all the families," Attebery told KREM.

Cahill is survived by his wife, Joleen, three children and a grandson, Attebery said.

Maj. Libardo Eduardo Caraveo, Woodbridge, Virginia

Libardo Eduardo Caraveo, 52, arrived in the United States from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico in the mid-1970s, when he was a teenager, his son, Eduardo Caraveo told the Arizona Daily Star.

He knew little English then, the younger Caraveo told the newspaper. By 1986, Caraveo, the first in his family to attend college, according to the newspaper, had earned his Ph.D. in psychology, his son said.

Caraveo worked with bilingual special-needs students in Arizona before he entered private practice, the newspaper reported, citing the slain man's son.

He then took positions in several locations for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the newspaper reported. He had worked for the bureau since the early 1990s.

Attorney General Eric Holder released a statement Saturday saying that Caraveo was a Bureau of Prisons psychologist. "My thoughts and deepest sympathies" are with his family, Holder said.

His son told the newspaper that his father was preparing to deploy to Afghanistan with a Wisconsin-based combat-stress-control unit, the Arizona Daily Star said.

The newspaper said he had been in the Army National Guard for nearly a decade.

Caraveo was assigned to the 467th Medical Detachment, Madison, Wisconsin.

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Army Staff Sgt. Justin DeCrow, Plymouth, Indiana

Justin DeCrow, 32, was a "loving husband and father, and we're going to miss him," sobbed his wife, Marikay DeCrow, from their home in Evans, Georgia.

The couple has a 13-year-old daughter.

DeCrow went to Fort Hood in September to prepare for his deployment to Iraq, which was scheduled for sometime between December and March, Marikay DeCrow told CNN.

He had just come back from a tour in South Korea, where he worked in satellite communications, she added.

Daniel DeCrow, Justin DeCrow's father, told CNN affiliate WSBT in South Bend, Indiana, that his son joined the Army after finishing high school in Plymouth, Indiana.

He last spoke to his son last week, WSBT reported.

"As usual, the last words out of my mouth to him were that I was proud of him," Daniel DeCrow said, according to WSBT's Web site. "That's what I said to him every time -- that I loved him and I was proud of what he was doing. I can carry that around in my heart."

Capt. John Gaffaney, San Diego, California

John Gaffaney, a 56-year-old Army reservist, was a psychiatric nurse and worked for two decades in San Diego County, California, where he helped elderly victims of abuse and neglect.

Ellen Schmeding, assistant deputy director of the county's Aging and Independence Services Department, told CNN affiliate KFMB that Gaffaney most recently served as a supervisor for the county's Adult Protective Services Department.

"Everybody is quite shocked and shook up over what happened," Schmeding said.

Gaffaney, the father of a grown son, traveled to Fort Hood this week for a yearlong overseas deployment. Before he worked for the county, he had been in the Army, where he earned the rank of major, Schmeding said.

Schmeding said Gaffaney "really felt he could make a difference" serving members of the armed forces.

He will be "sorely missed," she said.

Spc. Frederick Greene, Mountain City, Tennessee

Greene, 29, was assigned to the 510th Engineer Company, 20th Engineer Battalion, Fort Hood, Texas.

Spc. Jason Dean Hunt, Tipton, Oklahoma

Hunt, 22, wanted to be part of something greater than himself, his sister Leila Willingham told CNN. He enlisted in the Army in 2006 and spent his 21st birthday in Iraq, she said. He chose to re-enlist, dedicating the next six years to the military.

"I think that says a lot for that kind of man who makes that kind of choice for his country," Willingham said.

Willingham sobbed as she talked about the love she had for a brother who made her "super proud."

Hunt was recently married and set for his second deployment to Iraq, his sister told CNN's "Larry King Live."

I couldn't imagine something like that -- attacking another soldier. It's just ridiculous. I don't understand it.
--Kristopher Craig, brother of shooting victim Michael Pearson
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Hunt graduated high school in 2005 and tried his hand at a career in information technology, Willingham said. But he had a different calling.

"I really feel like when he enlisted in the Army, he fulfilled that part of himself that wanted to serve other people and live for something greater than himself," Willingham said.

She said she doesn't know the details of her brother's death, but wants to believe he died trying to save others. "It's something he'd do," she said.

Sgt. Amy Krueger, Kiel, Wisconsin

Amy Krueger, 29, was a high school athlete who joined the military after the September 11, 2001, attacks, Kiel High School Principal Dario Talerico told the Milwaukee (Wisconsin) Journal Sentinel.

"I know she was proud to serve and proud to share her experience," Talerico told the newspaper. "She took pride that she was able to serve her country."

Krueger played for the high school basketball and softball teams and graduated in 1998, Talerico said.

A high school friend who later shared an apartment with Krueger had fond memories of the sergeant.

"She was one of the best people you could have ever met," Carrie Marie Senkbeil told the newspaper.

Pfc. Aaron Thomas Nemelka, West Jordan, Utah

Aaron Nemelka, 19, graduated from high school and enlisted in the military in the same year -- 2008. He was set to deploy to Afghanistan in January, his family told CNN affiliate KUTV.

Nemelka, the youngest of four children, was happy to offer his service, the family said in a letter read aloud by Lt. Col. Lisa Olsen of the National Guard to KUTV.

"Aaron was very happy as a combat engineer. He was anxious to be deployed to Afghanistan in January."

Family members said they were devastated by their loss.

Nemelka's uncle, Maj. Michael Blades, read a statement from his nephew's family.

"Aaron was very proud to serve in the military," Blades said, adding that many others in his family had also served in the armed forces.

"His mission is completed in this life. He now serves a higher calling in heaven," Blades read. "We love him, we miss him, and we look forward to that glorious day when the family will be reunited with him."

Nemelka had a girlfriend and he may have had plans to marry her, KUTV reported.

Pfc. Michael Pearson, Bolingbrook, Illinois

Michael Pearson, 22, enlisted in the Army more than a year ago to realize his musical dream. He hoped the military would be his path to college, where he could study musical theory, his brother Kristopher Craig told CNN affiliate WGN-TV in Chicago, Illinois.

"He was a genius as far as we were concerned," Craig told WGN-TV, reeling from the news that his 21-year-old "little kid brother" was dead.

"He was really living his life playing guitar," Craig said. "When he picked up a guitar, we all understood that he was expressing himself."

Pearson was scheduled to deploy either to Iraq or Afghanistan in January, his brother said. He was learning to deactivate bombs and training in the Mojave Desert, said his mother, Sheryll Pearson. She was looking forward to seeing her son at Christmas.

He was shot three times in the spine and chest and died on the operating table, she said, according to TV affiliates in Chicago.

"His father is still in shock and very angry," Sheryll Pearson said. "We're all very angry."

Craig, who also had been stationed at Fort Hood and now serves in the Illinois National Guard, said he cannot accept a fellow soldier gunned down his brother.

"It's unfathomable," he said. "I couldn't imagine something like that -- attacking another soldier. It's just ridiculous. I don't understand it."

Capt. Russell Seager, Racine, Wisconsin

According to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, radio station WUWM, which did a profile on Russell Seager earlier this year, the 51-year-old man was a nurse from the VA Medical Center in Milwaukee and worked to help veterans with mental health problems related to war experience.

Seager, who signed up for the Army Reserve four years ago, was preparing to deploy to Iraq, the radio station reported.

"I've always had a great deal of respect for the military and for service, and I just felt it was time that I stepped up and did it," Seager told the radio station, talking about his deployment.

"I mean it sounds corny and patriotic, but when you talk to people that decide to do this, the feelings are similar," he said.

The radio station, whose profile on Seager aired in August, said he had a Ph.D. in alternative medicine and would have been working in Iraq to prevent mental health problems from developing in troops.

He was assigned to the 467th Medical Company, Madison, Wisconsin.

Pvt. Francheska Velez, Chicago, Illinois

Francheska Velez, 21, lived the dream her father never realized.

Velez enlisted three years ago, an act her father Juan Guillermo Velez always wanted to accomplish, he told CNN affiliate WGBO. He encouraged his three-months pregnant daughter to stick with the military after she gave birth.

"My advice to her was to continue with her career in the military after she had her child," he told WGBO. "Then she would tell me, 'Daddy,' always with a smile on her face, which I will never forget, 'I will continue with my military career.' That was a dream that she made happen for me."

Francheska Velez had recently returned from Iraq and was transferred to Fort Hood last week because she was pregnant, her father said.

In the wake of his loss, Juan Velez struggled to comprehend why.

"It's a very difficult slap because you understand if it was terrorists or if it happened over there during the war. What hurts the most is that one of her own killed her and in her own house, the base where there should have been security."

Lt. Col. Juanita L. Warman, Havre De Grace, Maryland

Warman, 55, was assigned to the 1908th Medical Company, Independence, Missouri.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which spoke with Warman's sister Margaret Yaggie of Roaring Branch, Pennsylvania, the slain woman was a military physician's assistant. She had spent most of her career in the military, her sister told the newspaper, and had put herself through the University of Pittsburgh.

Warman had two daughters and six grandchildren, the newspaper reported.

Spc. Kham Xiong, St. Paul, Minnesota

Kham Xiong, 23, was preparing for his first deployment since joining the Army, his sister told CNN affiliate KARE.

Xiong enlisted last year and was scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan in January, Mee Xiong said.

She thinks her brother was at the site of the shooting because he was getting a medical checkup and vaccinations, she said.

With another brother serving in Afghanistan, the news of Kham Xiong's death is "hard on the family," his sister said.

"He is a loving person, everyone loves him and adores him," Mee Xiong told KARE.

Her brother was a father of three, KARE reported.

Part of complete coverage on
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Maj. Nidal Hasan has been charged with 13 preliminary counts of premeditated murder stemming from the Fort Hood shootings, the Army said.
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President Obama led a memorial service for the 13 people killed in the massacre at the largest military installation in the U.S.
Hasan wanted an out for Muslims
The Fort Hood suspect urged in 2007 that Muslims in the Army be allowed to claim "conscientious objector" status, an official said.
Soldier did 'what I'm trained to do'
Pvt. Joseph Foster was filling out routine paperwork when he heard a shout quickly followed by a burst of gunfire from just a few feet away.
Investigators look for missed signals
Investigators believe the Fort Hood suspect acted alone, but U.S. intelligence agencies flagged his communications in 2008, the FBI said.
Slain civilian loved work, family
Members of Michael Cahill's family said they know had he not been killed, he would have been trying to save the lives of the wounded.
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