Fort Hood: How the Injured Are Coping and Recovering

EXCLUSIVE: Shooting survivors speak to ABC News about their recovery.

November 09, 2009, 6:59 PM

KILLEEN, Texas, Nov. 9, 2009— -- For many of the 43 people wounded when an Army psychiatrist allegedly went on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, the scene was unreal -- it seemed like something out of a movie. Maybe it was a drill.

But in exclusive interviews with ABC News' Bob Woodruff today, the survivors agreed they are lucky to be alive, and they mourned the loss of their 13 comrades gunned down, allegedly by Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan.

Woodruff met with the men and women injured in Thursday's attack at Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center on the base. He is the first and only reporter allowed in the hospital to speak with the injured.

Inside, Woodruff found that the hospital halls echoed with laughter and the injured were in remarkably high spirits.

Staff Sgt. Paul Martin must spend his 45th birthday confined to a hospital bed, but he said he is counting his blessings.

Martin was shot four times -- in the lower back side, his leg, and each of his arms.

"It seemed like a movie," Martin said. "It didn't seem like it was real."

Martin was saved by a fellow soldier half his size who threw him over his shoulder and carried him to safety.

Martin said he was amazed at his battle buddy's strength in the midst of chaos.

His rescuer told him, "Sgt. Martin, I'm with you. I got you. I'm not going to let you go," Martin said.

For Pfc. Justin Johnson, today is a milestone: He walked for the first time since he was shot in the back and the foot.

"I'm lucky to be alive," Johnson told ABC News.

Johnson described the chaos he and his mother felt when shots rang out while they were talking on the phone.

"She thought it was a video game and told me to turn it down," Johnson remembered.

But it was no joke -- and Johnson had no control over how the events would play out.

In addition to the heroic stories of the soldiers who were able to escape the tragic shooting, ABC News met with some of the heroes who cared for the wounded after the rampage.

Army Maj. Dr. Steven Beckwith was in the emergency room Thursday afternoon nursing wounds. He said that while many of the soldiers' conditions have been upgraded over the past few days, there is still much work to be done.

"For soldiers, this is an ongoing thing. I think we're all very cognizant of that," Beckwith said. "They're not out of the woods yet, they have a lot of recovery to do."

The recovery that the injured will face is much more than physical. Many of the soldiers are left mourning the loss of their fellow soldiers and wondering why their own comrade allegedly turned the gun against them.

Fort Hood Shooting Victims' Long Road to Recovery

Capt. Dorrie Carskadon, a combat stress specialist from Wisconsin, who was at Fort Hood training for a deployment to Afghanistan, said she initially thought the shooting was a drill.

Three of the members of her unit did not survive the attack.

Carskadon, who was shot in the head, the hip, and the stomach, described the shooter to ABC News.

"I understand that he was a psychiatrist," Carskadon said. "I'm glad that he's alive. I'm glad that we'll be able to question him."

The hospital staff in the emergency room at Darnall Army Medical Center have seen 35 patients from Thursday's attack.

Two died on the way to the hospital and one died inside, but the rest of the patients were stabilized within 90 minutes of arrival.

While the injured were in the good hands of the hospital staff at Darnall Army Medical Center, family members waited anxiously at home to hear from their loved ones.

Spc. Dayna Ferguson was shot four times at close range and curled up in a chair to hide from the shooter. Ferguson told ABC News that the shooter shot her in her leg and arm and then moved on to his next victim.

Hours later, Ferguson's parents learned their daughter had survived.

Maj. Randy Royer is another soldier who said he feels lucky to be alive, after he was shot in the leg and the arm but was dragged to safety by a stranger while they were under fire.

Royer said he is searching for the woman to thank her.

"She pulled me into the cubby -- when a lot of the stuff was going on," Royer said. "She probably saved my life."

There is an abudance of heroes at Fort Hood -- and the accolades for the staff at Darnall Army Medical Center are echoed by many.

"It's amazing," Martin said. "The staff here helped me with everything. They are waiting on me like a newborn baby."

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