Portion of state Route 50 to honor Avella soldier, heroine
AVELLA, Pa. — Ten years after tragedy struck the military community at Fort Hood, Texas, a heroine who lost her life saving another soldier will be honored by her hometown.
Early next month, part of state Route 50 in Avella will be officially named for Lt. Col. Juanita Warman, who was among 13 people murdered Nov. 5, 2009, at the U.S. Army base near Killeen, Texas, in an episode of domestic terrorism.
In preparation for a ceremony scheduled for 11 a.m. Nov. 2, the Washington County commissioners honored Warman with a proclamation, which they presented Thursday to members of her family.
The gathering on what the commissioners proclaimed “Lt. Col. Juanita Warman Day” will take place at Avella Volunteer Fire Department.
As a child, Warman lived in Avella, where she attended elementary and junior high school. A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, she was a psychiatric nurse practitioner specializing in the care of those recovering from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.
Warman was just days away from being deployed to Iraq when the shooting rampage began.
“Juanita Warman was prepared to sacrifice her life for her country,” said Col. Sam Wagner, U.S. Army casualty assistance officer assigned to Warman’s family after her death. “She was not expecting to get killed in Fort Hood.”
She sacrificed her life to save another soldier.
A threesome among those in a processing center heard shots. Warman and another military member threw a third soldier to the ground, who survived, Wagner said. The two atop did not.
Warman and her daughter, Melissa Ann Papst, now of Washington, formerly lived in Peters Township. Papst, a 1999 graduate of Peters Township High School, recalled her mother as “very thoughtful, very helpful. She loved helping people.
“She really cared about people and she wanted to make a difference.”
The comrade whose life she saved is expected to attend the ceremony in Avella, along with Gen. George W. Casey, who was Army chief of staff when the massacre occurred.
Nidal Hasan, now 49, was convicted of the shooting in 2013 and now faces the death penalty. Victims included military personnel and civilians.
Hasan was an Army major until he was stripped of his rank. He awaits execution on 13 counts of murder and the attempted murder of 32 people.