Mike Cahill, The Only Civilian To Die At Fort Hood

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Funerals are being held this weekend for some of the 13 people killed in the Fort Hood shootings. Among them is a service for 62-year-old Mike Cahill, whose family and friends are gathering in Cameron, Texas. Nathan Bernier of member station KUT reports.


Funerals are being held this weekend for some of the 13 people killed in the Fort Hood shootings. Among them, a service today in Cameron, Texas, for 62-year-old Mike Cahill. He was the only civilian to die in the attack.

From member station KUT in Austin, Texas, Nathan Bernier reports.

NATHAN BERNIER: It's a bit chaotic at the Cahill home right now.

Ms. JOLEEN CAHILL: We're kind of moving things around since we got a lot of family.

(Soundbite of telephone ringing)

BERNIER: The phone rings off the hook and the house is packed. Mike's daughter, Kerry, flew in from Chicago. His other daughter, Keely, drove from her home four hours away. His son, James, is here and so his sister, Rebecca, who came from Oregon.

Mike Cahill's wife, Joleen, sits at the dining room table and explains what happened on the day of the shooting.

Ms. JOLEEN CAHILL: Thursday was a very anxious time because I kept thinking that he can't call out because it's locked down, that he would call me when he could. And then the later it got, and the later it got, then I became very worried.

BERNIER: That night, an Army chaplain and sergeant arrived at her door to deliver the worst possible news.

Ms. JOLEEN CAHILL: The last few days have been just kind of surreal. Just, did this really happen? And yes, it did. And having to deal with the fact that, yes, it happened.

BERNIER: On the day he and 12 other people were killed in the Fort Hood shooting spree, Mike Cahill was working as a physician's assistant. He had just returned after a heart attack.

Outside of work, Joleen says Mike was a voracious reader. He loved history and telling stories and debating politics. His daughter, Kerry, shows off his bookshelf in the living room.

Ms. KERRY CAHILL: I mean like "Foxtrot," "Calvin and Hobbs," big fan of Calvin and Hobbs. We have William Shakespeare, we have Antietam. We have the "IRA: A History." We have, you know, "A People's History of the United States" by Howard Zinn. These is, again, example of, like, my dad love liked, you know, everything.

BERNIER: Kerry sits down in front of her computer and pulls up an Irish folk ballad, "There Were Roses." She says it was one of her dad's favorite songs.

Ms. KERRY CAHILL: There's a great chorus line and says it "And the tears of the people ran together." And so I think how when you have so much tragedy and so much grief, the people who are affected by it are often the people who do not control what happens.

(Soundbite of song, "There Were Roses")

Unidentified Men: (Singing) There were roses. There were roses and the tears of the people ran together.

For NPR News, Im Nathan Bernier in Austin, Texas.

Unidentified Men: (Singing) There were roses. There were roses and the tears of the people ran together. There were roses. Roses. There were roses.

HANSEN: You're listening to NPR News.

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