GARDEN GROVE, Calif. - The Army Reserve center in Garden Grove, Calif., was dedicated to the memory of Fort Hood, Texas, shooting victim Capt. John P. Gaffaney on July 21.
Gaffaney was killed while trying to subdue the gunman in the Nov. 5, 2009 attack that killed a total of 13 people, including five Army Reserve soldiers from the 807th Medical Command.
Gaffaney was posthumously awarded the Soldier’s Medal for his actions by Secretary of the Army John McHugh, at a ceremony at Fort Hood one year after the attack. But this honor is something more permanent and visible, reminding soldiers and the public alike that the cost of freedom is often the lives of some of its citizens.
“I am so honored for my brother,” said Michelle Vannote of North Fargo, N.D., Gaffaney’s elder sister. “This building means so much, and I hope that the men and women who come through those doors get the sense of his duty and honor.”
Gaffaney’s service to the country is inspiring. He had retired from military service in 1999 after serving in the U.S. Navy and the California National Guard. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he waged a three year campaign to rejoin the military as a psychiatric nurse. While he had done that job for the California Department of Corrections for 23 years, the military did not consider him educationally qualified to perform the job.
Finally, in 2006, the Army Reserve relented and assigned him to the 113th Combat Stress Control Company in Garden Grove.
He was, as narrator Col. David Rabb said, “a man who didn’t need to be where he was, and who didn’t need to do what he did….He is a true American hero.”
“John would be ever so humbled,” said Joan Williams of Phillipsburg, Mont., another sister of Gaffaney’s.
The memorial was the result of several months of work by Gaffaney’s former command, the 2nd Medical Brigade. The Gaffaney Memorial Reserve Center will provide offices for nearly a dozen Army Reserve units in Orange County, from several major Army Reserve commands, including the unit Gaffaney belonged to – the 113th Combat Stress Control Company.