FORT HOOD — About 250 Purple Heart recipients, Gold Star family members and local and state government representatives attended the 13th annual Military Order of the Purple Heart Ball on Saturday at Club Hood, honoring all Purple Heart recipients and the past and present service of women in the military.
Killeen Mayor Scott Cosper, Salado Mayor Skip Blancett, Harker Heights Mayor Rob Robinson and former Heights Mayor Ed Mullen were recognized for their efforts on behalf of veterans. Although double-booked for the evening, Cosper said he couldn’t miss the chance to be around such patriotic Americans.
“From a civics standpoint, it is such an honor to meet and interact with such great heroes,” Cosper said. “And tonight they are honoring Officer Bobby Hornsby, who was the first officer killed from the police department in recent memory. We truly appreciate them honoring his memory and his wife, Kimberly.”
Hornsby said it was truly wonderful the Military Order of the Purple Heart took time to remember her husband, especially since he never served in the military.
“I’m really thankful the military honored Bobby’s sacrifice, even though he was just a (police) officer,” she said. “That they believed his sacrifice was significant enough to be recognized is a testament to who he was.”
Officers Robert L. “Bobby” Hornsby served on the Killeen Police Department for four years and on the SWAT team for six months before he was killed in the line of duty in July 2013. His service had such a positive impact on his community that nearly everyone he came in contact with came to his memorial, Kimberly Hornsby said.
The guest speaker for the night was Col. Patricia Darnauer, commander of Carl R. Darnell Army Medical Center, who spoke of the history of women who received the Purple Heart Medal and the role women played in the military over the years.
“I was incredibly honored, privileged, when asked to be the guest speaker,” Darnauer said. “I don’t even have a Purple Heart, and to be here among these heroes is a great thing.”
Darnauer commanded a combat support hospital in Afghanistan in 2011 in the southern Helmand Province, where she saw firsthand the trials of men and women wounded in combat.
“It was predominantly U.S. Marines, but it was a humbling experience there to see the commitment these Marines had, the things they did every day and the wounds that they suffered.”
The ball is a time to recognize those who have given so much, said Earl Williams, commander of the MOPH Central Texas Chapter 1876. This year was not only an opportunity to honor women who served, but to honor the Gold Star families whose loved ones made the ultimate sacrifice.
“We want them to know we haven’t forgotten the sacrifices their family and their spouses made for them, and we just want to support them,” Williams said.