By Brian Graves, News Editor
Thursday, September 12, 2013 —
Nov. 9 will be the fourth anniversary of the day Spec. Matt Cooke was seriously wounded when U.S. Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan opened fire at the Fort Hood Soldier Readiness Processing Center in Texas.
Cooke was one of 30 who were wounded, while 13 were killed.
Hasan’s trial entered its final stages last week and Cooke’s family traveled to Texas to be with their son while he testified against Hasan.
“It was different this time,” said Diane Frappier, Cooke’s mother, of Norwood.
“When Matt testified in the preliminary hearings, Hasan tried to stare him down,” she said.
“This time he barely even looked at Matt.”
The trial ended with Hasan being sentenced to death, but the proceedings of the trial and the verdict must be reviewed by an Army justice superior before the verdict is officially carried out.
Hasan is now an inmate at the U.S. Detention Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
Cooke’s story has been told and retold several times. He was shot five times, once in the head, three in the back and another entered sensitive areas and fragmented, causing intestinal damage.
He and his family have now had to relive the horror all over again as Cooke prepares for what his mother hopes can be a Wounded Warrior homecoming.
“He’s doing OK I guess,” she said.
“If you add up all of the disabilities the military says he has, it means he is 180-percent disabled. They officially interpret that as 90-percent disabled.”
There had been plans for a homecoming Saturday, but Frappier said that will have to be delayed.
“There were certain appointments he needed to keep to finalize him departing the base,” she said.
“But he has memory problems because of his wounds that came into play, and he missed those appointments.”
She said she hopes that homecoming can occur within the next few weeks.
Frappier said the families of the wounded and killed were not totally happy with the verdict.
“None of us wanted the death penalty,” she said.
“It wasn’t because of opposition to it — I am personally — but it was what he wanted so he could be a martyr. We did not want him to have what he wanted.”
Frappier said the trial did bring to light some new details.
“It sounds as if Hasan was using Matt as a body shield,” she said.
“He fired 30 rounds across Matt’s shoulder, which is the reason for the deafness he suffers today.”
Frappier said the evidence shows it was probably because of Cooke’s attempt to save a fellow soldier who had already been shot that placed him more directly into Hasan’s line of fire.
She freely admits there is a feeling of revenge when thinking of the punishment for Hasan.
“I know it’s not Christian, but it has changed so many lives forever,” she said.
“We’re going to suffer for the rest of our lives over this idiot’s decision.”
She said once Cooke returns home she hopes he is greeted the way any Wounded Warrior deserves.
“I think he’d just like to go fishing,” she said.
To submit story ideas, contact Brian Graves at (704) 982-2121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.