Commentary: 'Big Mac' is another hero in Fort Hood assault

The (Raleigh) News & ObserverNovember 17, 2009 

Big Mac makes a big save

Many folks around Rockingham have memories of the kid we called Big Mac using his 6-foot-10, 200-plus-pound body to shield opponents from the hoop when he played at Richmond Senior High School during the early 1980s.

For a bunch of people at Fort Hood, being shielded by Big Mac — U.S. Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Alonzo Lunsford — was almost their last memory. Period. Lunsford shielded some fellow soldiers from one of their co-workers who turned on his own in a deadly massacre.

"He was getting people out of the doors," his mother, Johnsye Lunsford, told me Monday by telephone. Johnsye Lunsford, whom I've known about 30 years, is the Rockingham city clerk. "People came up to me and told me he saved their lives by taking the bullets."

Lunsford took four, and two are still inside him. According to Lunsford and news reports, Mac was three to 10 feet from Maj. Nidal Hasan when Hasan allegedly opened fire.

"He knew him and had worked with the guy a couple of weeks ago," Johnsye Lunsford said. "He's not even bitter at the guy. That's the kind of heart he has."

Marc Newman, a vice president at St. Augustine's College, said Lunsford attended St. Aug's in 1995 and 1998, and was an assistant coach of the women's basketball team. "It doesn't matter how briefly you're here - once you're a Falcon, you're a Falcon for life," Newman said Monday. "We're praying for his healing and looking forward to having him back on campus so we can thank him for his service."

We can all thank Big Mac for his service. Whether the shooter was a deranged killer fighting inner demons or a terrorist declaring jihad on America, his rampage did not tear our nation asunder. If anything, it brought us closer together.

To read the complete column, visit www.newsobserver.com.

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