Frederick, Oklahoma, US
SPC, 1st Cavalry, 2-8 Infantry
11/5/2009, Fort Hood, US
A Tipton soldier killed Thursday during a shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, was a quiet boy who thought the military would help him grow into a man, his family said Friday. Specialist Jason Dean Hunt, 22, was one of 12 soldiers killed when a gunman opened fire at a soldier readiness center on the post. The gunman, identified by authorities as Maj. Nadil Malik Hasan, 39, was shot several times by a civilian police officer but survived the attack.
Hunt was a 2005 graduate of Tipton High School. Tipton is near Altus in southwest Oklahoma. Known as J.D., Hunt was voted “most quiet” in his senior class. His grandmother, Kay Smith of Frederick, said J.D. even dressed so that he would blend in at school.
“He never gave his mother one minute of heartache in his whole school life,” Smith said. “He was a good student. He was so embarrassed if someone thought he did something wrong.”
Hunt was married two months ago, Smith said. His wife, Jenna, was finishing a class in Oklahoma City and planned to move to Fort Hood, where Hunt recently bought a home. Leila Willingham, Hunt’s sister, said one of the family’s fondest memories was when Hunt’s mother, Gale Hunt, had to drive to the high school and give her permission for him to sit out of a cat dissection for a science class because he didn’t feel right about it.
Kathy Gray, an administrative assistant at Tipton Schools, said Hunt started attending school in Tipton in elementary school. “He was a real quiet kid, just kind of a quiet boy and a good kid, very kind,” Gray said.
Superintendent Shane Boothe said school officials are planning to have a moment of silence tonight at the Tipton football game against Thackerville and will plan other memorials.Willingham, 30, of McKinney, Texas, said her brother kept to himself but was a sweet person who loved his family.
“On Mother’s Day last year he sent me flowers,” Willingham said through tears. “How many brothers would send their sister flowers for Mother’s Day?”
Willingham said she once tried to explain the love of a parent to Hunt, who had no children of his own. Willingham told him she would willingly die to protect her children.
“And he told me he would die for my children in a second, too, children that aren’t his,” Willingham said. “He went on to say he would die for a complete stranger and would jump in front of a bullet for any of his soldiers.”
She said the family considers Hunt a hero and suspects he died protecting others. Hunt joined the U.S. Army three and a half years ago and was preparing for his second deployment to Iraq when the attack happened, Smith said. He re-enlisted once and planned to make a career of the military. True to his nature, Smith didn’t say much about Iraq to his grandmother.
“All he would ever say to me, because I don’t think he wanted to upset me, was that there were a lot of things he wanted to tell me but he didn’t want to tell me now,” Smith said.
Smith said family members worried constantly about Hunt when he was deployed but were unprepared for what happened Thursday. “This is so senseless,” Smith said. “This is so stupid.”