Edgerton soldier speaks out about Fort Hood heroism
Sgt. Michael Lechner doesn't want to talk about the horrible things he witnessed on the day of the Fort Hood shootings.
But the Edgerton soldier does want to talk about how proud he was of his fellow soldiers that day.
"I saw soldiers and myself pulling soldiers out of the line of fire, under fire, and I observed soldiers taking their shirts off, belts, everything they could do," he said. "I just want to say that I am so honored and proud to be a soldier right now."
Lechner is in Fort Hood, Texas, awaiting deployment to Afghanistan as part of the 467th Combat Stress Control Detachment, he said. He serves as a chaplain assistant.
He said he was walking toward the Soldier Readiness Center on Nov. 5 when the shootings began.
"I was thinking that it was somebody doing construction until I started seeing everything," he said.
Maj. Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist who was scheduled to deploy with the 467th, is accused of opening fire at the base, killing 13 people and wounding 31.
The 467th lost three soldiers—Staff Sgt. Amy Krueger of Kiel, Capt. Russell Seager of Racine and Maj. Libardo Eduardo Caraveo of Wood Bridge, Virginia.
Lechner, who is trained in first aid, tended to wounded soldiers as the shots rang out, he said.
"I was right there when the shots were going off pulling soldiers to safety," he said.
Lechner said the incident taught him the truth of the Warrior Ethos, also known as the Soldier's Creed:
"I will always place the mission first. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade."
He contacted the Gazette because he wanted "to make it known how everyone became a hero that day," according to an e-mail sent by his wife, Kelly Riley Lechner.
The mood at Fort Hood was still somber this week, Lechner said. But the soldiers participated in training Wednesday and have started to move forward, he said.
The tragedy has united the 467th unit before its Afghanistan mission, he said.
"We as a group are coming together, and we're bonding," he said.