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Retired Soldiers: “When Fort Hood Hurts, The Whole Community Hurts”

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KILLEEN (CBSDFW.COM) – The impact of the deadly shooting at Fort Hood is carrying well outside the fences of the Army post.

Retired soldiers in the Army town of Killeen told CBS 11 News that when Fort Hood hurts, the whole community hurts.

It was still dark at 6:30 a.m. Thursday when a custodian at Central Christian Disciples of Christ Church saw a man parked in the driveway. The man was wondering why the church hadn’t put up the flags yet. He was looking for the same flags that went up at the house of worship after the last shooting, five years ago.

The three crosses outside the church usually don’t get a second look. Now they are crosses where people stop to take pictures, and crosses where people paused to salute.

Killeen resident Bob Gordon said, “They deserved better. They deserve better than that, that happened out there.”

Friends Gordon and Bob Butler built and painted the crosses Thursday morning. There’s one for each soldier who died in Wednesday’s shooting. There are also 16 flags around them — for each soldier injured.

For the two Army veterans, it’s their way of showing, that in a way, the shooting injured them too.

“We’re hoping this just lets the whole community know we love ‘em, and we’re praying for ‘em,” Butler said softly. “We hurt when they hurt.”

The men put the flags up the first time after the shootings in 2009. Then there were more than 30 flags then, and 13 crosses.

On a street busy with traffic going to and from the post, the church turned into a place for people to reflect.

One person said, “I was really shocked that people would get into the driveway, and they would get out and kneel at a cross and pray… and they would bring flowers.”

The flags have gone up every Memorial Day, and Veterans Day since the first mass shooting at Fort Hood.

When the pre-dawn request for the flags came Thursday it was answered without hesitation.

The men said the gesture is their way of looking out for the soldiers in the Fort Hood community, who are willing to spend everyday looking after them.

The Army runs deep in the families of both men. They both have sons who have made the military their career.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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