How the Army Betrayed the Hero of Fort Hood

Kimberly Munley was shot three times taking down Nidal Hasan in 2009. Then she got laid off. Yet she’s never stopped fighting for the victims the military ‘betrayed.’

Jason Reed/Reuters

Just as in the last mass shooting at Fort Hood, the massacre on Wednesday ended when the gunman was confronted by a very brave policewoman.

“It was clearly heroic what she did at that moment in time,” Lt. Gen. Mark Milley said of the officer in the more recent horror.

Hopefully, the still-unidentified hero in this week’s attack will be treated better than Fort Hood Police Sgt. Kimberly Munley was after the massacre in 2009 in which she was shot three times and flatlined twice at the hospital.

Munley, and her equally heroic comrade Fort Hood Police Sgt. Mark Todd, were honored by President Obama and invited to sit with the first lady at the State of the Union address—only to be laid off due to budget cuts.

The suddenly unemployed Munley returned to her native North Carolina and concentrated on raising the two daughters she came so close to never seeing again. She offered no public complaint about being “excessed” along with Todd and other civilian police officers who had been hired for military bases when soldiers were busy with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She did protest loudly when the military victims of the shootings were denied combat benefits and Purple Hearts because the Army classified the incident as “workplace violence” rather than a terrorist attack.

“Betrayed is a good word,” she said of how the soldiers had been treated, but saying nothing about herself.

Todd signed on with a civilian contractor in Afghanistan. He returned safely only to suffer a stroke two days later, which left him unable to speak. That meant he was also later unable to testify against Nidal Hasan, the Army psychiatrist-turned-jihadi gunman.

Munley spoke for both of them from the stand, describing how she had been washing her squad car on Nov. 5, 2009, when she heard a radio report of shots fired. She raced to the scene and a soldier ran past her shouting, “He’s that way! He’s that way!”

She hurried in the direction from which the soldier was fleeing and spied a man in combat fatigues.

“Then I saw a red flash of a laser cross my eyes,” she told the military tribunal.

She instantly understood that it was the laser sight attached to the automatic pistol the man was now firing at her.

“I fire an unknown amount of shots, and he was running toward my direction continuing to fire rapidly,” she testified.

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Munley went down with wounds to her upper leg, knee, and hand. A bullet had struck a femoral artery and it was gushing blood as she kept firing. Her pistol then jammed and she could only watch the gunman advance and point his gun directly at her head.

“I see him standing over me trying to fire his weapon, and his is not firing as well,” Munley said.

She realized his weapon had also jammed.

“He tries to fix his weapon and stumbles off a bit, and I hear Sgt. Todd yell, ‘Drop your weapon! Drop your weapon!’” she recalled.

Munley said that Todd then fired the shot that brought Hasan down and paralyzed him. Munley remained conscious enough to hear a doctor at the hospital say, “We’re losing her.”

She had survived to help ensure Hasan was convicted and sentenced to death. She then resumed her campaign to get the military victims what she viewed as their due benefits and honors. She was no less passionate because civilians such as herself were not eligible under any circumstances.

A month ago, on March 7, Munley phoned Whiskey Creek, the biggest country-western bar in Killeen, the town adjoining to Fort Hood. She had only to speak her name to command the owner’s instant respect.

“You don’t forget things like that,” he later said.

Munley told him that she and the country-western stars the Mulch Brothers had joined in an effort to raise money for the Fort Hood victims. The owner immediately agreed to let them hold a benefit at his establishment the following Friday. He helped paper the whole area with fliers.

On March 14, a big crowd filled Whiskey Creek. Munley stepped onto the stage at the start and received rousing cheers from folks of Fort Hood and Killeen who remember her heroism, even though the government essentially discarded her. She once more spoke not of herself but of the wounded soldiers.

“She’s a good woman,” said the owner, who asked not to be identified by name. “That’s how we should be. That’s how we all should be.”

One person who seems to be very much like Munley is the military policewoman who ended Wednesday’s mass shooting by confronting the gunman, Ivan Lopez. He raised his hands as if in surrender, then suddenly reached down and produced from under his coat the pistol he had purchased from the same local gun shop as the previous mass shooter. She fired, but the bullet that killed him was apparently one fired by his own weapon, when he raised it to his head.

The hero policewoman in this shooting was not wounded. She is also in no danger of being laid off, though that is not in recognition of her bravery, only because she is an active-duty soldier.

The hero policewoman who was laid off after the previous mass shooting said on Thursday that she will not be speaking to reporters in the wake of the recent one. She did issue a statement:

“In light of the most recent incident at Fort Hood, I would like to ask that everyone keep all the victims, their families, the first responders, and those both directly and/or indirectly involved, in your prayers.

Shall there be any fund set up locally in the Fort Hood area, any group support channel, or any way to aid the victims and their recovery process, I urge and task all of you to extend your hand to accomplish that request.

I am proud of our soldiers who all showed courage, our military in its entirety, our military police officers, our Department of the Army civilian police officers, our emergency medical personnel staff, our fire department and staff, and any other individuals I may have left out who teamed up together to aid in putting an end to this horrible situation. Your service, courage, and dedication is greatly appreciated and shall never be forgotten.”

Meanwhile, the Spread the Mulch Tour continued, benefiting victims of what was in fact a terrorist attack in 2009. The Mulch Brothers’ next stop is at the Tequila Cowboy Bar and Grill in Nashville on Friday, April 4.

Maybe next year, the two hero policewomen could join together on a tour benefiting the victims of both shootings. The second horror was not a terrorist attack, but the victims are in equal need, just as the heroes were equally brave.