Joplin soldier wounded at Fort Hood yearns for duty

Thursday, November 12, 2009 | 4:50 p.m. CST; updated 5:05 p.m. CST, Thursday, November 12, 2009
CORRECTED CAPTION: Spc. Logan Burnett, 1908th Medical Company, is wheeled into Metroplex Hospital in Killeen, Texas, by his brother, Sgt. Joshua Burnett, and his wife, Torey, following a news conference Wednesday. Burnett was shot during the Fort Hood mass shooting. An earlier version of this caption misspelled the last name of Logan and Joshua Burnett.

FORT HOOD, Texas — Spc. Logan Burnette was sitting in the back row of 30 seats Nov. 5, waiting to see a doctor for a final review. A lot of other soldiers were sitting around, too, waiting their turns for whatever was next.

Hurry up and wait. Just another day in the Army.

Burnette saw a man stand up and heard him shout, "Allahu Akbar." The man then opened fire.

"It happened quick," Burnette said. "Real quick."

Bullets were flying. Soldiers got down for cover. There was blood.

It was no longer just another day in the Army.

Burnette is a 24-year-old Joplin native assigned to the 1908th Medical Company. He's an information systems operator and analyst, which means he specializes in communications.

The company was mobilized at Fort Hood and training with First Army Division West's 120th Infantry Brigade. Its 40 soldiers arrived in Central Texas less than a month ago and were going through a series of checks routine for any unit preparing to deploy.

The men and women of the 1908th were getting ready for two combat zones. The unit was going to split, and some soldiers would go to Iraq while others would go to Afghanistan, said Lt. Col. Anne Edgecomb, an Army spokeswoman.

Burnette talked early Wednesday morning about what he saw and experienced at Fort Hood's Soldier Readiness Processing Center.

The man was firing and everyone was defenseless, Burnette said. They had no weapons.

Burnette noticed some soldiers throwing chairs at the shooter, whom he called "the combatant." Combatant is a soldier term typically reserved for enemy forces. This man, in the same uniform as Burnette and his buddies, turned into a combatant.

Burnette decided to do something. He stood up and threw a folding table at the shooter.

The shooter aimed at him and a bullet tore through his left hip, his abdomen and upper and lower intestines. Burnette took another bullet to his right hip. It's still there.

He didn't know if or where he was shot and tried to stand up. More bullets came and he got hit in the left elbow, knuckle and pinky finger. Burnette fell again and crawled to a nearby cubicle.

He was there for a few minutes and heard the shooter move to the opposite side of the room. The shooter reloaded, Burnette said. The man was "very quick, very tactical."

Burnette and two other soldiers — he wishes he could remember their names — decided to get out of the building. The other two helped Burnette up and they began to move. Burnette fell. He couldn't run.

He finally made it to the front door and low-crawled five meters up a hill to another building. Burnette made it to the front door, and a staff sergeant — he wishes he could remember his name — grabbed him by the collar and dragged him into an office. The staff sergeant locked the door and performed first aid. Burnette could still hear gunshots.

There were a lot of heroes that day, he said Wednesday after tearfully recounting his experience. By no means did his actions take precedence over anyone else's, he said.

He added matter-of-factly: "There are a lot of heroes still in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Burnette was transported from Metroplex Hospital in Killeen to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio Wednesday morning. He was accompanied by his wife, Torey; his parents; and his brother, Sgt. Joshua Burnette, an active-duty soldier serving in Spain with NATO.

Spc. Logan Burnette's goal? Recover and return to duty as soon as possible.

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