McKinney Woman Asks North Texans to Remember the Fallen - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

McKinney Woman Asks North Texans to Remember the Fallen



    Leila Hunt Willingham remembers her brother J.D. Hunt this Memorial Ay and asks North Texans to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. (Published Monday, May 26, 2014)

    About 50 Texans are celebrating Memorial Day in Washington, D.C. this morning.

    They are part of a group called TAPS, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, which is an organization that helps families grieving the loss of a member of the armed forces.

    Leila Hunt Willingham has been to several TAPS events. She started attending the group's events after her brother was killed.

    Willingham said her brother, Army Specialist J.D. Hunt, enlisted in the military a year after he graduated from high school.

    "I was scared to death the whole time, any time the phone rang I got a lump in my throat because I was very worried about him," Willingham said.

    He served a 15-month tour in Iraq, before returning to the United States to be stationed at Fort Hood in the spring of 2009.

    Just a few months later, in November, Hunt was working when Nidal Hasan opened first on the post, killing 13 people and injuring 30.

    "I was trying to reach him. Text him, call him a hundred different ways," Willingham recalled.

    Eventually Willingham learned that her brother was in the back of the building during the shooting. He was awarded a Meritorious Service Medal for pushing a group of nurses under a desk and standing up to protect them.

    Hunt was shot three times and died before he hit the ground, according to Willingham.

    In Willingham's house, she said every day is Memorial Day.

    While people are having picnics and enjoying the start of summer this holiday, Willingham encourages them to take some time to remember the sacrifice of our service men and women.

    "If you don't agree with war or politics or what our government is doing, just appreciate the people who served to give you the freedom that you have," she said.

    For more information on TAPS, visit their website: