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Families, soldiers mourn comrades; share stories of survival

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Among the wounded victims is Matthew Cooke, a 30-year-old father of two who served two tours in Iraq. He was waiting for a blood test at Fort Hood's Soldier Readiness Processing Center in preparation for another deployment when gunfire erupted Thursday, catching the roughly 300 unarmed soldiers there off guard.

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Cooke, of Afton, N.Y., was shot five times by a gunman later identified as an Army psychiatrist, becoming one of 30 people wounded in the nation's worst shooting on a U.S. military installation. Thirteen others were killed in the rampage.

"All we know is that he's awake and alert and in a lot of pain," Cooke's mother-in-law, Jamie Casteel, told The Washington Post on Friday. His sister, Christina Cooke, told a New York television station that her brother was shot in the abdomen and has multiple organ injuries but is expected to live.

Cooke returned from his second tour of duty in Iraq in April and was transferred to Fort Hood in August, Casteel said. He and his wife, Sarah, live off-post with their 1-year-old son. Cooke has another son, age 5, from a previous marriage. Casteel, who drove to Texas on Thursday night from her home in Oklahoma to be with her daughter, said Cooke's unit was scheduled to deploy again to Iraq in January but that Cooke was not expected to head there until March or April.

Around Fort Hood and across the nation, dozens of families were suffering similar ordeals Friday as they anxiously awaited updates on the condition of their loved ones.

In a brief appearance Friday morning in the White House Rose Garden, President Obama said that from now until Veterans Day on Nov. 11, flags at the White House and other federal buildings will be flow at half-staff to honor the victims of the Fort Hood shooting.

"This is a modest tribute to those who lost their lives even as many were preparing to risk their lives for their country, and it's also a recognition of the men and women who put their lives on the line every day to protect our safety and uphold our values," Obama said. "We honor their service; we stand in awe of their sacrifice."

In addition, the Pentagon ordered a worldwide moment of silence on all U.S. military installations at 2:30 p.m. Eastern time -- the time the shooting began at Fort Hood on Thursday.

A candlelight vigil at the football stadium at Fort Hood is scheduled for 6 p.m. tonight.

The military also was dispatching dozens of grief counselors and family assistance teams to Fort Hood from around the country, officials said.

Of the 30 people wounded, all but two were still hospitalized Friday, and all were in stable condition, authorities said.

Among them was the alleged shooter, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, 39, and a civilian policewoman, Sgt. Kimberly Munley, who ended the rampage when she shot the gunman four times despite being wounded herself.


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