An honor guard ceremony was held Friday for the San Diego victim of the Fort Hood shootings.
The remains of 56-year-old Capt. John Gaffaney were flown to MCAS Miramar from Dover Air Force Base, in Delaware.
An army reservist who lived in Serra Mesa, Gaffaney had arrived at Fort Hood with his unit the day before the shooting. He was just beginning a one-year deployment to Iraq, a mission he requested. He never made it overseas.
The Gaffaney family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to Captain Gaffaney's Medical Stress Unit at Fort Hood. Donations should be sent to:
1908th Medical Detachment (CSC)
500 SW 42nd St.
Topeka, KS 66009-1241
Call 785-267-6243 (ext. 240) for more information.
"You never leave a soldier on the battlefield," said Major Robert DeCarlo of the 113TH Medical Company Combat Stress Control. "Welcoming home is our honor, and that is why we're here."
Gaffaney was dedicated to his country, having served first in the Navy, then in the California National Guard. After 9/11, he re-enlisted in the army reserves.
"His call to duty was very personal and his dedication was heartfelt," DeCarlo said.
On hand Friday for the ceremony were Gaffaney's co-workers from his civilian job as a psychiatric nurse with the county, as well as members of the military and his family, including his wife of 33 years, Christine, and his 30-year-old son, Matthew, who walked out to the tarmac as those around them saluted.
Gaffaney's two sisters remembered him as a happy man with a twinkle in his eyes.
"I'm telling you, he would be so honored to see the tribute that our country has given him and the countless words of support we've received from across the nation, not just from dear friends but from everyone," said sister Michele Vannote.
"I will remember this happy man, and he was doing what he wanted to do -- he was serving his country -- and I'm so proud of him," said his other sister, Joan Williams.
A memorial service with full military honors will be held Saturday at Fort Rosecrans.
Major Nidal Hasan allegedly went on a shooting rampage at the Army post last Thursday. Soldiers reported that Hasan, who is Muslim, shouted the Arabic phrase for "God is Great" before opening fire.
President Barack Obama told family and friends that no just and loving God looks with favor upon the Fort Hood slayings, and that the shooter ultimately will meet justice "in this world and the next."