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Fort Hood Victims Laid To Rest; Hundreds Of Mourners Turn Out

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KIEL, Wis. — Hundreds of people lining the main street of an Indiana town on Saturday fell solemnly silent as the white hearse passed. Mourners waited for hours outside a Wisconsin gymnasium to say goodbye to a soldier who once promised to take down Osama bin Laden.

And in Oklahoma, a newlywed grieved for her husband of nearly three months.

Several victims of the Nov. 5 shooting massacre at Fort Hood, Texas, were laid to rest Saturday across the country, after family members, friends, fellow soldiers and strangers passed their flag-draped coffins and paid their respects.

In Plymouth, Ind., Sheila Ellabarger had placed two foot-high American flags in the grass where she watched the procession for U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Justin DeCrow. She said her children went to school with DeCrow and his wife – his high school sweetheart – and she knew others in his family.

"He was killed by a terrorist in my mind but he was still killed in the line of duty. We owe him a debt of gratitude, him and his family and the other soldiers. We owe them our lives, our freedom," Ellabarger said.

During services in Norman, Okla., images of Army Spc. Jason Dean Hunt and his beaming wife were shown on a screen. The recently married 22-year-old was described as a loving husband and family man as well as a soldier who left a legacy of selflessness and service.

"We may never find out the reason for what occurred on that fateful day at Fort Hood, Texas," said Brig. Gen. Ross Ridge, of Fort Sill, Okla. "The military community are all grieving here today over the loss of this dedicated soldier."

Hunt was among the 13 people who were killed at Fort Hood, where authorities allege Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan opened fire at the processing center. Hasan, 39, has been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder in a military court.

Army investigators have said he is the only suspect in the case and could face additional charges. His attorney has said prosecutors have not yet told him whether they plan to seek the death penalty.

On the Texas post that the fallen soldiers once called home, officials continued with their plans for deployment.

The processing center, where troops who are about to be deployed or who are returning undergo medical screening, has been up and running. Also the units that had soldiers who were either killed or wounded in the shooting are still set to go to Afghanistan in the coming months.

At the high school in Kiel, Wis., people stood in line to get a final glimpse of Staff Sgt. Amy Krueger. She was what's called "Army Proud." She was often seen in an Army hat or shirt and sported a tattoo that had a tattered American flag and read: "All gave some. Some gave all. Sacrifice."

Those words were painted on signs along the hallways that led to her former school's gymnasium, which was filled with people who remembered the 29-year-old as a determined, energetic young woman with a magnetic smile.

"It is that smile and that energy that keeps us going throughout this difficult time," her parents, Jeri Krueger and David Diem, said in a statement.

Their daughter joined the U.S. Army Reserves after the 2001 terrorist attacks and vowed to hunt down bin Laden. When her mother said she couldn't do it alone, the soldier told her: "Watch me."

In West Jordan, Utah, among those crowded into a Mormon chapel were Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said Lt. Col. Lisa Olsen, Utah National Guard spokesman.

They joined the family and friends of Pfc. Aaron Thomas Nemelka for the funeral honoring the 19-year-old.

Nemelka joined the Army just over a year ago and was to deploy Afghanistan in the coming months. Relatives say he was planning to ask his girlfriend to marry him in December.

Other funerals on Saturday included one for Capt. John Gaffaney, 56, a psychiatric nurse who worked for San Diego County, Calif., and Pfc. Michael Pearson, 22, of Bolingbrook, Ill.

Pearson was a musician who liked to share his love of the guitar. During his service, a lone electric guitarist played a mournful rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Hours after the procession passed through the Indiana town, 84-year-old Pauline Baugman went for a stroll. She said DeCrow's death had left a pall of sadness over Plymouth.

"Everybody's kind of walking around with their head down today," she said. "It's just so sad."

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Associated Press writers Rochelle Hines in Norman, Okla., Rick Callahan in Plymouth, Ind.; Dinesh Ramde in Milwaukee and Jennifer Dobner in West Jordan, Utah, contributed to this report.

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