Remember Remember the 5th of November

On November 5th, Josh and I were chatting through Yahoo Messenger the night before he left to come back to Spain from his 33 day TDY to Norway. I had just gotten offline with him so he could finish cleaning and get his laundry finished. I got on Facebook one last time and saw a status message from one of my friends "Don't worry everyone, I'm fine!". I didn't even know anything was going on for me to worry about so jumped on google news and looked at the headlines... "Shooting at Fort Hood Army Base". As I read more and more I started to recall a few things. I went back a few days on my sister-in-law's facebook page and confirmed my recollection. Josh's little brother Logan was at Fort Hood. Not only was he there, but he would have been in the building because he was filling out paperwork prior to deployment. Oh CRAP!

I immediately called my sister-in-law (Torey) to see if she'd heard from Logan yet... if he was OK. I was sure I was going to be met with a flustered "he's fine he's fine" since I was betting she'd gotten plenty of calls already.
"HEY! It's Allie, do you know what's going on? have you heard from Logan?"... I guess she assumed I knew more than I did because she responded "We're on the way to the hospital now"
"You don't know what happened? I thought someone called you"
"No one called me. I saw the news and called you"
"Logan's been shot. He's in surgery right now. We're driving out to Texas"...

I can't really describe how I felt or what I said because I have no words to express that fear, and what ones I do have aren't quite G rated. I was the only one who could maybe possibly get a hold of Josh and I told Torey I'd call Mom for her so she could just get out there. I tried signing on to Yahoo Messenger again, said a little prayer he'd know to sign on... and he did, not even a minute later. Our conversation was brief, emotional, and heartbreaking and I don't wish to relive it. I had to tell my poor husband via Yahoo Messenger that his only brother, his little brother, had been shot. Then I called Mom. The next few hours were a blur. No one knew anything about anything. We didn't even know where he was shot or how many times. Blur, like I said. Josh, Mom, and myself stayed on facebook since it was our only common means of communication. Logan made it through surgery, was talking, and in recovery. He'd been shot 3 times. Once in the left pinky finger, once in the arm right below his elbow, and once in the hip which ripped across his gut and lodged into the soft tissue in his other hip. He had surgery on his abdomen to repair his large intestine. They left a lot of bullet fragments strewn inside his body. The bullets used were the kind that fragment when they hit bone... to cause more internal damage. Jerk.

The next day Josh and I talked for a few minutes and then he was gone. An entire day on planes and in airports, completely cutoff from everyone. I can't imagine how long the day was for him. I got busy with making plans. I wanted to make sure everything was taken care of before Josh stepped foot into the house. His unit out here is spectacular. They did his leave form, found transportation to the airport, got our tickets booked, and really took care of anything they could for us. The Red Cross bought tickets for our entire family to fly to Texas. Holiday Inn gave us a free room out in Killeen. Our neighbor (fellow NATO wife) called ME to offer to watch Bosley. The people out here really are fantastic. Josh was a mess when he got home. By this point I had even talked to Logan for a few minutes and told him we were on the way. He was really happy to hear that. Josh finally got to talk to his brother as well and it seemed to make him feel better too. We both knew he was going to be OK after all. I don't know how the hell he did it, but he was alive and kickin' after 3 gunshot wounds.

The trip there was a long and grueling 11hrs followed by a 4hr rental car ride from Dallas to Killeen. We didn't get in until around 1am and though we were tempted to go to the hospital anyway, the kids were far too exhausted. We left first thing in the morning for the hospital to see Logan and Torey. It felt great to wrap our arms around him and see him... battered, but not broken in any way. He's a real inspiration. Both him and Torey have been strong and courageous throughout everything they've been through (and this wasn't the only crap they've had to endure). They've dealt with this horrible situation by leaning on each other. Logan refuses to allow this to take his spirit, his drive, his motivation, or his enlistment from him. He's tenacious and impressive. Here's his story in his own words.

Everyone and their mom came out to see Logan. Literally everyone but the President showed up and that's only because we weren't at the base hospital. I even got a coin from Secretary of Defense Gates. Gooo meee!! Logan stayed at the hospital for quite a while and then was transferred to BAMC (Army hospital) in San Antonio. This worked out great for us since we still had friends in San Antonio to stay with. Kevin surrendered his home to us and we are eternally grateful! It was nice spending time with him as well. Vita came up from Austin to see Logan and meet Torey. She watched the kids for us so we could finally get some things taken care of. It was really frustrating trying to help out, but being tied down with responsibilities to our children. We were scheduled to head back to Spain right before they were talking about discharging him so we extended another 10 days to make sure we were there to help out.

Logan was discharged from the hospital and assigned to the Warrior Transition Battalion. There are so many wounded service members out here since the hospital is equipped with a burn and amputee unit. Logan and Torey are staying with a few families at the Fisher House for now. It's a wonderful resource, but I'm sure they're ready to have their own place again. We got to hang out for the last couple of days without any responsibilities or stress. We even celebrated Thanksgiving together (early since our flight left on T-Day). For the 5th consecutive Thanksgiving Vita and I were able to prepare dinner together. She's an integral part of our celebration now :) I told her I might have to fly her out to Spain next year. I don't think I can have a proper Thanksgiving Day without my sister! We tried to show Logan and Torey around a bit before we left. We took them to Brackenridge Park, specifically to the Japanese Tea Garden. They both really liked it. It was the first time I actually took pictures the entire time I was there. Logan says he'll be frequenting the garden when he can. It's difficult for him to walk up and down stairs and hills. He's using a cane and sometimes his knee just gives up on him, but he is doing better every day.

From what we heard they're going to be in San Antonio for at least the next year, going through rehab. Logan has a few more small surgeries for his hand ahead of him, but he looks like he's going to make a full recovery. He suffered some nerve damage from the bullet that entered his hip, but they're expecting the nerves to grow back and repair themselves in time. Time tells all. Logan and Torey wanted me to pass along their gratitude to everyone for their thoughts, prayers, gifts, time, and donations. They have been greatly appreciated by both of them. You've made this time much less stressful for them and they love you for it! They have been overwhelmed by people's generosity. Vita has set up a donation account on paypal for them if anyone would like to continue to help out. There is also a "proper" savings account set up for them you can donate to at Wells Fargo or Wachovia under the name "Donation account for Logan Burnett" (these donations can be tracked and receipted). Logan and Torey will be in Texas for the next year... hopefully the pay issues and orders get worked out soon. Torey is already looking for a job and they've found a place to move into by February. Being stuck in limbo is awful! Thank you to anyone who can help and has helped. They are extremely gracious people and really appreciate all you have done.

Oddly enough it wasn't until we got home and saw our photos of Logan up on walls and on shelves that it hit both of us that we almost lost him. Logan is like my little brother too... he was living with me in San Antonio for awhile while Josh was deployed. We are pretty close. I love Torey like my other sisters... as far as we're concerned we're sisters by blood. They're perfect together! It wasn't until we got home that my aunt Vita's death finally hit me. I said my goodbyes to her while I was in Ohio (the whole reason I was there). I have no regrets about that and I'm relieved she's no longer in pain. I'm going to miss her, though. We all are. She was such a unique, generous, loving person. I'm sure I'll see her again someday. That's about the extent of what I want to say about that. I just don't have it in me to handle a blog tribute at this point.

When we got back home we were surprised to find that our electricity had gone out at some point so all our food was rotten and disgusting in the deep freeze and the fridge. Thankfully we hadn't stocked them recently so there wasn't a whole lot to throw out. The stench was horrific though :P We tried to overcome the jetlag over the weekend, but to no avail. Hopefully we'll be able to distinguish our days from our nights again soon! We're starting to get our Christmas decorations together, buying what we still need. So far so good. We've got a 4-day coming up so we're going to do some shopping :)

The pictures of our trip are uploading right now. Check out the sidebar if you're interested.

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