Army buries nurse from Havre de Grace, shot at Fort Hood

Baltimore Sun

Lt. Col. Juanita Warman had been at Fort Hood only 24 hours, preparing for deployment to Iraq, when she and 12 others were gunned down there earlier this month. She was the highest-ranking soldier killed in the attack.

"I kept thinking, 'She can't be in the processing center.' She had just gotten there, she had more training to undergo. She was not due to leave until the end of November," her husband, Philip Warman, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I knew she was going in harm's way in Iraq. [But at Fort Hood] this is not the way she was going to go."

On Monday, friends and family gathered in the cold rain at Arlington National Cemetery. The ceremony began with the deep drums of the United States Army Band. Dark horses pulled the caisson that carried Warman's oak-colored casket.

"She was indeed an extraordinary woman," Philip Warman told the Post-Gazette. "I can't remember when we weren't together. We met at a social event at the University Club in 1986. We've been together since. She was my best friend. She was an excellent soldier."

Warman, 55, worked her way through the University of Pittsburgh, became a nurse, and joined the military, where she worked as a physician assistant, said her sister, Margaret Yaggie of Roaring Branch in north-central Pennsylvania.

Gen. James Adkins, adjutant general for Maryland, told the Austin American-Statesman that Warman was instrumental in setting up the post-traumatic stress disorder program for the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program, which helps soldiers and their families reacclimate to civilian life.

"She was especially interested in helping female veterans," Lt. Col. Mike Gafney of the Maryland National Guard told the Texas paper. It was a mission "that was very dear to her heart," he said.

"She loved meeting with and helping women soldiers through the long and many times lonely path they had to face after coming back from the war," Gafney said.

Yaggie said her sister was excited to go to the Middle East, but her thoughts were of her two daughters, three stepchildren and eight grandchildren.

Each stage of the funeral seemed more precise and more heartfelt than the last. The servicemen slowly carried out the honors reserved for Warman as each motion seemed to intensify with the cold.

The immaculately dressed servicemen folded the flag that had draped Warman's casket and Maj. Gen. Robert J. Kasulke, commanding general of the U.S. Army Reserve Medical Command, presented it to Philip Warman.

Three men held three other flags and one by one, each was gently touched to Warman's casket before Kasulke handed them to Warman's daughters, Tawnya Pattillo and Melissa Czemerda, and her mother, Eva Waddle.

Secretary of the Army John McHugh and Brenda Koch, on behalf of Arlington Cemetery, offered condolences.

In the last moments before walking away, family members bent down and kissed Warman's casket. She was laid to rest in Section 59, just north of Section 60, where most casualties of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are buried.

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