George Stratton III of Post Falls had ducked for cover after hearing a deafening spray of gunfire at the Soldier Readiness Center at Fort Hood on Thursday.
When he peeked up to see what was happening, the shooter stood five feet from him and shot him point blank, his father, George Stratton Jr., told The Spokesman-Review Friday morning.
The bullet passed through his son’s left shoulder but did not damage any nerves or bone. The younger Stratton – his family calls him “Little George” – is recovering in a hospital, his father said.
“We were panicked, but we knew people were dying from it,” Stratton Jr. said. “We were relieved (that he was OK).”
The young man was among 30 people wounded and 13 killed when Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan allegedly opened fire at the huge Texas military base.
Stratton Jr. and his wife, Lynne, received a call from their son around lunchtime Thursday. The message said, “Dad, I’m in the back of an ambulance. I’ve been shot, but I’m OK.”
The Strattons’ phone started ringing at 4:30 a.m. Friday with media from across the country calling. Fox News, CNN and local TV stations and newspapers called the family nonstop, Stratton Jr. said. They finally stopped answering the phone and now wonder if one of the calls might have been the Army with an update on their son’s condition.
“We’re just hoping to try to sneak away,” he said. “I want to wait until we hear from the Army — what’s going to be the status. One of his commanding officers is going to pick him up later today. I didn’t want to make a mad rush to Texas until I know if we’re going to get to see him.”
The younger Stratton completed his GED and an apprenticeship with his father, a plumber. Thinking that jobs would be scarce, he joined the Army to obtain additional training and receive a “steady paycheck,” his father said. He is training to become a water treatment specialist.
He joined the Army at age 17 with his parents’ blessing and turned 18 at Fort Hood in July. He had completed basic training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina, then went to Fort Lee in Virginia for advance individual training, his father said.
He was preparing for a January deployment to Afghanistan.
“He came out a straightened-out young man,” his father said. “It really grew him up. He’s very proud of being in the Army. His peers like him. His commanders like him.”
Lynne Stratton said her stepson loves the Army. “It just changed his whole outlook on life.”
The Strattons would like to bring their son home to recover and hope he will have the option of not deploying, at least not so soon.
“You get these young guys going over there and they’ve already been shot and who’s to say what their mental state will be,” the father said.