Fact Check

Presidents Bush and Obama Visit Fort Hood

Photograph shows former president George W. Bush visiting a survivor of the Fort Hood shootings?

Published Nov 25, 2009


Claim:   Account describes a visit by former president George W. Bush and Laura Bush with survivors of the Fort Hood shootings.


TRUE: Photograph shows former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush visiting a survivor of the Fort Hood shootings.
FALSE: President Bush arrived at Fort Hood unannounced and without a Secret Service escort.
FALSE: President Bush was asked to leave Fort Hood by the White House.
FALSE: President Obama merely "held a photo session in a gym" at Fort Hood and did not visit wounded soldiers there.

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, November 2009]

Down in Dothan, AL a man had a TV on in his office when the news of the Ft Hood military base shootings came on. The husband of one of his employees was stationed there. He called her into his office and the minute he told her what was going on, she got a text message from her husband saying, "I am okay." The cell phone started ringing right after that. It was an ER nurse. She said, "I'm the one who just sent you a text, not your husband." She thought the message would be comforting, but she immediately knew she had to let the wife know what was going on. She said, "I am sorry but your husband has been shot 4 times and he is in surgery."

The wife left Southern Clinic in Dothan and drove all night.

Miraculously, here is the photo I just received from my brother that was taken today in the hospital room. He is awake and will recover. His wife, who lives in Dothan, made it to Ft. Hood about the time he was waking up. Thought I'd share this great outcome.


Origins:   The recovering soldier pictured above is Alabama Army Guard Maj. Randy Royer, who was wounded during the shootings at Fort Hood on 5 November 2009 that killed 13 people and left over 30 more people injured. The evening after the tragedy, Maj. Royer and his wife Trish received a visit from the former First Couple, George and Laura Bush, who paid an unannounced and unpublicized visit to Fort Hood and spent a few hours meeting those injured in the shooting that had left thirteen people dead the previous day.

Mrs. Royer told us that some of the details of the text accompanying the photograph are inaccurate, but that she and her husband did greatly enjoy the visit from Mr. and Mrs. Bush:

On Fri the 6th, Pres Bush and his wife made a visit to us, no frills, no press. It was awesome. They are down-home, normal people. They were able to visit with us and the other soldiers in the ICU. The pic was taken on my cell phone and I had sent it to a few people and somehow it got around, but we don't know who or why the email was started. We really appreciated Pres Bush and Laura taking the time to visit the soldiers, especially with all they had gone through. We also had many other visitors in the following days, including Pres Obama and Michelle. They were just as friendly and concerned and were able to speak to us after the Memorial Ceremony.

A later variation combined the above-displayed photograph with the following purported account of President Bush's visit to Fort Hood:

George W. Bush heard about Fort Hood, got in his car without any escort,
apparently they did not have time to react, and drove to Fort Hood. He was
stopped at the gate and the guard could not believe who he had just
stopped. Bush only ask for directions to the hospital then drove on. The
gate guard called that "The president Is on 'Fort Hood and driving to the
hospital." The base went bananas looking for Obama.

When they found it was Bush they immediately offered escort and Bush
simply told them to shut up and let him visit the wounded and the
dependents of the dead. He stayed at Fort Hood for over six hours and was
finally ask to leave by a message from the White House. Obama flew in days
later and held a "photo" session in a gym and did not even go to the
hospital. All this I picked up from two soldiers here who happened to be
at Fort Hood when it happened.

We contacted the Public Affairs Office at Fort Hood and asked if they could provide information about how much, if any, of this account was factual, but they told us all they could confirm was that "Former President Bush did visit the hospital." However Bush spokesman David Sherzer stated that although the former president's trip to Fort Hood was somewhat spontaneous (i.e., it was planned the same day it took

place), it was coordinated with base officials who were informed of it in advance, that Bush did not refuse a Secret Service or military escort, and that neither President Obama nor anyone else from the White House ordered him to leave. (Sherzer also confirmed, as reported by FOX News at the time, that Mr. and Mrs. Bush "spent between one and two hours visiting the wounded and their families," not "over six hours.") The former president neither stopped at the fort's main gate nor declined a military escort once inside — he was an expected visitor who was accompanied by the Secret Service on the one-hour drive from his home in Crawford, Texas, and was escorted throughout his visit by base officials.

The claim that when President Obama visited Fort Hood he merely "held a photo session in a gym" is false. President Obama traveled to Fort Hood and spent four hours there on 10 November 2009, attending a memorial service for the victims of the shooting and meeting with the families of the dead and the wounded:

Barack Obama held emotional meetings at Fort Hood, Texas, with the relatives of the 13 victims of [the] shooting rampage and condemned what he referred to as the "twisted logic" of the gunman.

Before the service, Obama and first lady Michelle Obama met privately with the families of the dead and some of the wounded. The first couple also planned to visit wounded troops in the hospital before they returned to Washington.

Speaking to thousands of people at a memorial service at the base, Obama said what made the tragedy more painful and more incomprehensible was that it had happened not on a foreign field but on American soil.

Obama postponed a trip to Asia to attend the memorial service, where he read out the names and a brief history of each of the victims. Near the lectern where he delivered his address, 13 pairs of boots were placed, each with a rifle and helmet, along with photographs of the dead.

Many soldiers and relatives expressed gratitude that the president had come to help them grieve, with many breaking into tears.

The following photograph documents Mr. and Mrs. Obama's visit with Major Royer and his wife at Fort Hood:

Click photo to enlarge

Last updated:   9 April 2014


    Baker, Peter and Clifford Krauss.   "President, at Service, Hails Fort Hood's Fallen."

    The New York Times.   10 November 2009.

    Christensen, Sig and Brian Chasnoff.   "A Day After Rampage, Tales of Survival and Heroism."

    The Houston Chronicle.   7 November 2009.

    Gordon, Tom.   "Soldier Wounded at Fort Hood Has VIP Visitors: the Bushes, then the Obamas."

    The Birmingham News.   11 November 2009.

    Henig, Jess.   "Bush at Ft. Hood."

    FactCheck.org.   11 February 2010.

    MacAskill, Ewen.   "Obama Attends Memorial Service for Victims of Fort Hood Shooting."

    The Guardian.   10 November 2009.

    Tedford, Deborah.   "Obama, Soldiers Gather to Mourn at Fort Hood."

    NPR.   10 November 2009.

    FOXNews.com.   "Obama Honors Fort Hood Victims as Heroes, Says 'Justice' Awaits Killer."

    10 November 2009.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

Article Tags