George Stratton III, of Post Falls, ducked for cover after hearing a deafening spray of gunfire at the Soldier Readiness Center on Thursday at Fort Hood, Texas.
When he peeked up to see what was happening, the shooter stood 5 feet from him and shot him point-blank, his father, George Stratton Jr., told The Spokesman-Review on 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 a gunman opened fire at the huge Texas military base. The suspect, Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, is in custody.
Stratton Jr. and his wife, Lynne Stratton, 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. Fox News, CNN and local TV stations and newspapers called the family nonstop, Stratton Jr. said. They finally stopped answering the phone but later wondered 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 completed basic training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina, then went to Fort Lee in Virginia for advanced 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.”