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Southern California Ft. Hood victim wanted to help soldiers in Iraq

November 7, 2009 |  7:24 am

One of the victims in the Ft. Hood shooting massacre was a 56-year-old psychiatric nurse who worked for the San Diego County government.

Capt. John Gaffaney arrived at the base a day before the shooting en route to deployment in Iraq. Here's some background on Gaffaney compiled by the Associated Press:

Gaffaney, who was born in Williston, N.D., had served in the Navy and later the California National Guard as a younger man, his family said. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he tried to sign up again for military service. Although the Army Reserves at first declined, he got the call about two years ago asking him to rejoin, said his close friend and co-worker Stephanie Powell.

"He wanted to help the boys in Iraq and Afghanistan deal with the trauma of what they were seeing," Powell said. "He was an honorable man. He just wanted to serve in any way he can."

His family described him as an avid baseball card collector and fan of the San Diego Padres who liked to read military novels and ride his Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Gaffaney supervised a team of six social workers, including Powell, at the county's Adult Protective Services department. Ellen Schmeding, assistant deputy director for the county's Health and Human Services Agency, said Gaffaney was a strong leader.

He is survived by a wife and a son.

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