NWLA Chapter 351

Derrick Smith

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A Shreveport Army sergeant, who was wounded in Iraq, was at Fort Hood on Thursday when a gunman opened fire, killing 13 people and wounding 30 more.

But Sgt. Derrick Smith, a 15-year veteran of military service and former commander of the local post of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, has to be tight-lipped about what happened until the investigation is complete.

"I cannot give out any information at all," he said Friday. "I can't give out any information because I am deeply involved in the investigation."

Contacted first just a few hours after the shooting, the 37-year-old Coushatta native had just finished giving a statement to the Army's Criminal Investigation Division.

"I haven't been released from the scene yet," he said from the sprawling military training center south of Waco, Texas. "My CO (commanding officer) and I were actually in the middle of it."

Smith was part of the former 1/156th Armor Battalion that deployed with the rest of the state's 256th Brigade Combat Team in 2004-05. He was severely burned and had facial skin blasted off by a vehicle-borne bomb in Baghdad in April 2005.

That was around the same time the local unit, which was providing security in the Abu Ghraib district, was attacked by terrorists trying to free comrades in the Abu Ghraib prison. The unit also was involved in the daring rescue of kidnapped Australian engineer Douglas Wood, a 63 year old who was kidnapped and held 47 days.

Smith was in Shreveport on Monday, presenting a compound crossbow to wounded and medically retired Marine veteran Lance Cpl. Blake Johnson, of Denham Springs, in conjunction with other members of Military Order of the Purple Heart  Chapter 351.