Slain Army Nurse From Md. 'Was A Woman To Look Up To'

Iraq-bound Officer Had Left Havre De Grace, Arrived At Fort Hood Hours Before Shootings

November 09, 2009|By Laura Vozzella | Laura Vozzella,laura.vozzella@baltsun.com

Lt. Col. Juanita L. Warman arrived at Fort Hood less than 24 hours before a gunman opened fire. In the hours that followed, relatives tried to assure Warman's mother, Eva Waddle, that she was likely safe.

"I said, 'Mom, it's fine,' " said Warman's sister, Tammy Harper of Pittsburgh. "'There's 51,000 people there [at the base]. There's no way.' "

When the phone rang shortly after 10 that night, Harper figured it was her mother calling to say she'd finally gotten word from Warman.

"I said, 'How's your daughter?' and she's screaming, hysterical," Harper said. "There's military people outside her door and she wouldn't let them in."

Warman, a 55-year-old psychiatric nurse practitioner from Havre de Grace, was among the 13 people killed on the Texas base Thursday. Authorities say an Army psychiatrist, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, was the shooter. Because Warman and Hasan both worked in psychiatry, her family is left wondering if she might have known him.

A mother of five and grandmother of eight, Warman was about to be deployed to Iraq. She had arrived at Fort Hood on Wednesday night or Thursday morning - relatives were unsure - from Fort Hunter Liggett in California, where she'd had some training. Her family was prepared for her to face danger in Iraq but is having trouble absorbing what happened on U.S. soil, allegedly at the hands of a fellow soldier.

"You expect it from your enemy," Harper said. "He [a U.S. soldier] is supposed to be watching your back, not attacking you. ... Even the military's having a hard time wrapping their minds around this, let alone the family."

Warman specialized in treating post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, a statement released by her family said.

A native of Pittsburgh and the eldest of seven children, Warman attended nursing school at Ohio Valley General Hospital and later earned a master's of science in nursing from the University of Pittsburgh, Harper said.

She spent more than 20 years in the military in active duty and in the Army Reserves in the United States and Europe. She received the Army Commendation Medal in 2006 for meritorious service as a psychiatric nurse deployed to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

She and her husband, Philip Warman, a lawyer, lived in the Pittsburgh area until 2005. They moved that year to Havre de Grace so she could take a job with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Harper described a big sister with an unshakable can-do attitude, no matter if the challenge was her next deployment or keeping her house looking good enough for a House Beautiful photo shoot. She would pair Army fatigues with lipstick, Harper, a hair stylist, recalled approvingly.

"She was a woman to look up to because of what she's done with her life," Harper said. "We all, as younger siblings, admired her because she just kept pressing forward. The woman never complained about anything. ... She always had a smile and if there was anything stressful, she just worked through it."

Warman's grandchildren looked up to her, too. Her 8-year-old grandson Edon Czemerda is always saying that he wants to go into the military, just like Grandma.

"He loves World War II and the military in general," said Kathy Czemerda of Canonsburg, Pa., the boy's other grandmother. "I believe his grandmother spurred that on."

Kathy Czemerda said Warman loved to travel, whether on duty or on vacation.

"She had been to Greece, Italy, Hawaii," she said. "She was just all-around nice, intelligent, a lot of culture. ... She was a very cool woman - helped a lot of people."

Edon said Warman had sent him some "really cool gifts" from her travels, including a toy knight on a horse.

"She was pretty sweet," he said.

Officials allege link between suspect, two 9/11 hijackers. PG 7

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