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FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. — Command Sgt. Maj. Bart Womack remembers the chaos at his base in Kuwait. The grenade explosions and gunfire led him to believe Camp Pennsylvania was under attack.
Only later did Womack find out one of the Army’s own was responsible. Now Womack, of Columbus, Ohio, is memorializing the two soldiers killed 10 years ago in the assault by 41-year-old Hasan Akbar on his fellow United States troops.
The Kentucky New Era reported that Womack organized the ceremonies to mark the anniversary of the deaths of Army Capt. Christopher S. Seifert and Air Force Maj. Gregory L. Stone on March 23, 2003. Fourteen other soldiers were injured. Akbar is currently at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., after being convicted of the killings and sentenced to death.
Womack attended a ceremony on Saturday at Fort Campbell before flying to Pennsylvania to lay a wreath on Seifert’s grave. A third ceremony will be held in Washington, D.C., at Stone’s grave.
“How could a person that’s supposed to have your back, someone that you’re supposed to trust, someone who’s taken the oath that you’ve taken to support and defend do this to you?” Womack asked. “I’m hesitant to use the ‘S’ word for him in terms of him being a soldier, because I don’t think anyone that’s a soldier through and through would do something like that,” Womack said of Akbar.
Akbar was stationed with the 326th Engineer Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), when he attacked his comrades.
As the command sergeant major of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, at the time, Womack felt it was his responsibility to organize a memorial ceremony for his fallen comrades.
Womack said he organized the ceremonies in different parts of the country to allow as many people as possible the opportunity to pay their respects.
Womack said he didn’t spend much time with Stone, but he saw Seifert every day. Womack said Seifert was a dedicated soldier.
“You know, he took the ball and ran with it,” Womack said. “Needed very little guidance, if any.”
Womack added that Seifert was never without a smile on his face.
After his death, Seifert’s friends from Moravian College started an annual golf outing in Seifert’s memory. Womack also started a PayPal account for people to donate to the memorial fund. The money will be used to pay for the wreaths, he said, and any excess money would be donated to the Maj. Gregory L. Stone Memorial Scholarship.
“We are ... here to have a really simple remembrance ceremony for our comrades,” Womack said. “And we just want to let them know that they’re not forgotten 10 years later.”