November 11, 2009 EditionAlso in this issue...
Walnut Ridge native at Fort Hood
Pvt. 2 Ryan Bounds, a 2008 graduate of Walnut Ridge High School who is stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, was on base Thursday when a fellow soldier entered the processing center and opened fire, killing 13 people and wounding 30 others. The incident has been called the worst soldier-on-soldier violence in U.S. military history.
Bounds, a member of the 20th ENBN, 584th Company, said he had just finished a class and was preparing to head to the processing center when someone told him that he couldn't go because shots had been fired.
"The loud speakers were telling everyone to take shelter and that it was not a test," Bounds said. "I was outside my unit's building when I began hearing sirens and received the lockdown order. We were instructed to stay inside and away from the windows."
The shooting began shortly after 1:20 p.m. as soldiers from the 36th engineer brigade waited for medical exams. Two soldiers from Bounds' company were wounded by the shooter, and the 20th Engineer Battalion had 11 wounded and four killed.
While the soldiers were under lockdown, Bounds said they were able to get bits and pieces of news from cell phones and were getting information about what was going on from the internet and from phone calls they were receiving from family and friends back home.
"We were taken to the basement of our building until the lockdown was lifted around 8:30 Thursday night," Bounds said. "That's when we learned that two from our company were hit."
"Just about that time Brenda Alls, the high school office clerk, came to tell me I had a phone call. That is when I could feel the panic rising inside me. Brenda assured me it was a good friend of mine on the phone, not someone from the Army base."
Hallman said she called Ryan on his cell phone on her way to the office, holding her breath awaiting the sound of his voice. She said instead of Ryan she got his voicemail, and left a message for him to call or text her as soon as he could.
"Bub, it's Mom. I have to know you're okay," was the message she left.
After speaking with her friend on the phone in the office who was concerned about Ryan's safety, her phone began to buzz.
"It was Ryan," Hallman said. "He said, 'Mom, I'm fine and I will call you later. I love you and I will be fine'."
After returning to her classroom she began to search the Internet and realized she was visibly shaking.
"I felt so lucky, yet so overwhelmingly sad to know other mothers wouldn't have the same reassuring phone call that I had just received," said Hallman.
Bounds said the two men in his company are doing well and will be alright.
"We were all a little shaken, especially since we are so close to deployment to Afghanistan around the end of December," Bounds said. "The men and women we serve with are like brothers and sisters, and when we lose any one of them we feel the loss greatly."
He said that life on the base is slowly getting back to normal, but the base security is tighter than normal. On Tuesday President Obama was as Fort Hood to attend a memorial service for the fallen soldiers.
"I want to thank Walnut Ridge and all the community back home for their concern and for the calls I've received," Bounds said. "I'm so grateful they are keeping us in their prayers."
"Ryan has a long line of servicemen on both side of the family," Hallman said. "His grandfather, Thomas Bounds, played a big part in his decision to join the Army. He looks up to his grandpa and wants to make him proud."
She said Ryan plans to come back home after he leaves the Army to attend college and become a coach. "He's so very proud to say that he's a Walnut Ridge Bobcat and that he's from small-town USA."