KIEL, Wis. (AP) — When Staff Sgt. Amy Krueger joined the U.S. Army Reserves after the 2001 terrorist attacks, she vowed to hunt down Osama bin Laden. When her mother said she couldn't do it alone, the soldier defiantly told her, “Watch me.”
Krueger and several of the other 12 victims of the Fort Hood shooting rampage were set to be mourned at funerals across the country Saturday.
On Friday, hundreds packed into the Kiel High School gymnasium for a visitation for Krueger, 29, who was remembered as a determined, energetic young woman.
“We know what happened, but we don't know why it happened,” said Geneva Isely, 57. “To give her all the way she did — and on United States soil. Just unbelievable.”
Krueger was set to deploy to Afghanistan for a second time in December and had recently arrived at Fort Hood for training. She had been studying psychology at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and was a mental health specialist who wanted to help soldiers cope with combat stress.
She also loved playing sports, shooting pool and was a partygoer who sang karaoke and belted out songs by rapper Eminem.
“Her smile would light up any room, her energy would envelope all of those around her,” her parents, Jeri and David Krueger, said in a statement. “It is that smile and that energy that keeps us going throughout this difficult time.”
She was to be buried in a private service.
Funerals also were planned Saturday for Pfc. Aaron Thomas Nemelka, 19, of West Jordan, Utah; Staff Sgt. Justin M. DeCrow, 32, an Indiana native who lived in Evans, Ga., with his wife and daughter; Capt. John Gaffaney, 56, a psychiatric nurse who worked for San Diego County, Calif.; Spc. Jason Dean Hunt, 22, of Frederick, Okla.; and Pfc. Michael Pearson, 22, of Bolingbrook, Ill.
Utah's congressional delegation, governor and the president of the Mormon church were among those expected to attend services for Nemelka, an Eagle Scout who carried on a family tradition by joining the Army a little more than a year ago.
“Aaron was a man of few words but deep feelings and a gentle disposition,” according to an obituary in Salt Lake City newspapers. “His beautiful smile and cheerful, fun-loving personality endeared him to his many friends and family members.”
In Plymouth, Ind., small American flags were to be distributed downtown to honor DeCrow. His body was to be escorted from a funeral home to a church by military members, police officers and Indiana Patriot Guard motorcyclists.
“It tears at your heart that it was someone from our community,” Mayor Mark Senter said. “People will be out to support him and all that he did for our country.”
In Kiel, an eastern Wisconsin town of 3,500 and self-proclaimed “little city that does big things,” Krueger knew Mayor Robert Werdeo Jr. simply as “Uncle Bob.”
“She had that constant, ever-loving smile — except when she was playing pool. Then she was there to win,” Werdeo said. “Just a very strong-willed, determined, beautiful young lady.”
Werdeo said Krueger always wore an Army hat or shirt around town and received a tattoo shortly before leaving for Fort Hood, where authorities allege Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan opened fire at a processing center last week.
With a tattered flag in the background, Krueger's tattoo read: “All gave some. Some gave all. Sacrifice.”
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.