Remembering the Navy Yard victims

The Monday shooting at the Washington Navy Yard left 12 people dead

A small group holds a candlelight vigil on Freedom Plaza to remember the victims of the shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, in Washington.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Michael Arnold, 59

Arnold was a Navy veteran from Lorton, Va., and an avid pilot who was building a light airplane at his home, said his uncle, Steve Hunter.

"It would have been the first plane he ever owned," Hunter said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press, from Rochester, Mich., Arnold's hometown. "It's partially assembled in his basement."

Hunter said his nephew retired from the Navy as a commander or lieutenant commander and had previously been stationed at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. He worked at the Navy Yard on a team that designed vessels such as the USS Makin Island, a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship used by the Marine Corps.

Arnold and his wife, Jolanda, had been married for more than 30 years, Hunter said. They had two grown sons, Eric and Christopher.

Hunter said Arnold returned to Michigan for Labor Day to visit his 80-year-old mother, Patricia.

"He was a loving son of his mother and his wife, and great father to his kids," said Hunter. "It's tragic. How can you get up in the morning and go to work and have that happen? How do bad things like that happen to good people?"

Sylvia Frasier, 53

Frasier had worked at Naval Sea Systems Command as an information assurance manager since 2000, according to a LinkedIn profile in her name.

Frasier studied at Strayer University, earning a bachelor of science in computer information systems in 2000 and a master's in information systems in 2002. Her duties at NAVSEA included providing policy and guidance on network security and assuring that all computer systems operated by the headquarters met Department of Navy and Department of Defense requirements.

She also led efforts "to establish and implement procedures to investigate security violations or incidents," according to the profile.

Her brother, James Frasier, declined comment Monday night.

Kathleen Gaarde, 63

Gaarde, of Woodbridge, Va., was a financial analyst who supported the organization responsible for the shipyards, her husband, Douglass, wrote in an email to the AP early Tuesday.

Douglass Gaarde declined to speak, but wrote that he was unable to sleep.

"Today my life partner of 42 years (38 of them married) was taken from me, my grown son and daughter, and friends," he wrote. "We were just starting to plan our retirement activities and now none of that matters. It hasn't fully sunk in yet but I know I already dearly miss her."

Madelyn Gaarde, of Grand Junction, Colo., who's married to Douglass Gaarde's brother, said her sister- and brother-in-law met while he was studying electrical engineering at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

Douglass Gaarde, an Illinois native, also worked for the Navy until his retirement last year, his sister-in-law said.

"She was a very gracious person and very welcoming," she said of Kathleen Gaarde.

Frank Kohler, 50

Rotary Club of Lexington Park/AP

Kohler was a past president of the Rotary Club in Lexington Park, Md. As such, he proudly held the title of "King Oyster" at the annual festival celebrating the region's signature bivalve the third weekend of each October.

"He walks around with a crown and robe and gives out candy," said Bob Allen, Kohler's former boss at Lockheed Martin in southern Maryland. "In fact, he was in charge of the beer stand. I used to have that job and when I left, I handed it off to him."

The married father of two college-age daughters had driven up to the Washington Navy Yard for a meeting Monday when the shootings occurred, friends told Allen. Allen said Kohler had taken over for him as site manager for the defense contractor, but he was unsure what business his friend had at the Navy Yard.

Allen said Kohler, a graduate of Pennsylvania's Slippery Rock College, was a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and an avid, though not overly skilled, golfer.

"He could probably shoot in the low 90s," Allen said in a telephone interview Tuesday from Bradenton, Fla. When Allen retired, Kohler picked his gift -- a gold pocket watch with the inscription, "From your friends in Lockheed Martin to help you putt into the future."

Kohler lived on the water with his wife, Michelle, an employee at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River. Allen said his friend loved to boat and fish, and went on frequent hunting trips to Canada.

"A great family man, a Christian, and a great friend," he said. "It just doesn't seem possible. I mean, you hear about these things all the time ... But when you know somebody, it just makes it all the worse ... It's a Huge loss for southern Maryland."

Vishnu Pandit, 51

Pandit Family/AP

Marine engineer and naval architect Vishnu Pandit, 61, preferred the nickname Kisan, the Hindi word for "peasant." It suited the hard-working Indian immigrant, known for his devotion to family, community and his 30-year civilian Navy career.

"He was very dedicated to improving the performance of naval ships and systems," longtime friend M. Nuns Jain said Tuesday outside the North Potomac home where Pandit's family privately mourned. "The only saving grace in this horrible incident is that he died doing what he loved the most in the service of his nation."

Jain said Pandit, a Mumbai native, earned a bachelor's degree in marine engineering in India in 1973 before coming to America and receiving a degree in naval architecture from the University of Michigan.

He said Pandit sailed with the U.S. Merchant Marine before joining the Naval Sea Systems Command, headquartered at the Washington Navy Yard.

Married to his wife Anjali since 1978, Pandit had two sons and a granddaughter, Jain said.

"He was a real family man and he loved dogs," including the family's golden retriever, Bailey, Jain said.

Neighbor Satish Misra said Pandit was on the home owners association board in their leafy subdivision, and active in the local Hare Krishna Hindu temple.

"He was a gentle man. I really loved him and his family," Misra said.

Kenneth Proctor, 46

Proctor worked as a civilian utilities foreman at the Navy Yard, his ex-wife, Evelyn Proctor, said. He spent 22 years working for the federal government, Evelyn Proctor said.

The Waldorf, Md., woman spoke to Kenneth early Monday morning before he left for work at the Navy Yard. It was his regular call. The high school sweethearts talked every day, even after they divorced this year after 19 years of marriage, and they shared custody of their two teenage sons.

She was in shock about her ex-husband's death.

"He just went in there in the morning for breakfast," Proctor said Monday night of the building where the shooting took place. "He didn't even work in the building. It was a routine thing for him to go there in the morning for breakfast, and unfortunately it happened."

Proctor said she tried to call her ex-husband throughout the day and drove to the Navy Yard on Monday afternoon, fearing the worst. After waiting for about three hours alongside other relatives concerned about their loved ones, she was informed around 8 p.m. that he was among the dead. Officials did not detail the circumstances of his shooting, she said.

The Proctors married in 1994 and divorced this year. Their older son, Kenneth Proctor Jr., 17, enlisted in the Army after graduating from high school this spring and is in basic training in Oklahoma. Their younger son, Kendull Proctor, is 15.

"We were still very close. It wasn't a bitter divorce," Evelyn Proctor said. "We still talked every day, and we lived 10 minutes away from each other."

Kenneth Proctor was born and raised in Charles County, Md., where he lived until his death.

"He loved the Redskins. Loved his kids -- a very loving, caring, gentle person. His kids meant a lot to him," Evelyn Proctor said.

John Roger Johnson, 73

A neighbor of John Roger Johnson said he was “just a delightful neighbor,” according to The Washington Post.

“He always had a smile on his face,” the neighbor told the Post. “He loved children. He loved our grandchildren. No one could ask for a better neighbor.”

The neighbor said Johnson was a civilian who worked for the Navy, and described him as a “smart man.”

She said Johnson had lived for more than 30 years in his Derwood neighborhood.

Arthur Daniels, 51

Arthur Daniels was a grandfather of nine who installed office furniture in federal government buildings, and on Monday, he went to work inside the Naval Yard, according to The Washington Post.

He and a colleague spotted a gunman running down a hallway in Building 197, and they ran toward an elevator and frantically pushed the button, the newspaper reported

The gunman shot Daniels, a father of five, in the back, a witness told The Post.

His wife, Priscilla Daniella, told The Post: “I don’t know why they shot him.”

“He was a good father and hard worker.”

Daniels’s son, Arthur Jr., told The Washington Post that the family was struggling to “understand why.”

“All he did was go to work,” he said. “That was his only crime.”

Martin Bodrog, 54

Bodrog family/AP

Jeffrey Prowse, a close friend told The Washington Post that Martin Bodrog was “a humble, loving father and neighbor [who] could frequently be seen in all types of weather, even post-blizzard bitter cold, in shorts and his trademark Boston Bruins jersey, walking his dog and helping shovel all the driveways of his elderly neighbors.”

He lived in Annandale with his wife, Melanie, whom he’d met in Newport, R.I., where she was serving as a Naval nurse and he was an instructor at Naval Surface Warfare School, Prowse told The Post.

He had three daughters, led 3-year-olds in Bible study at the children’s ministry at Immanuel Church, and was also active in the Christian outreach program Young Life.

Born in Woodbury, NJ, Bodrog graduated from the Naval Academy in 1981. Officially, he served 22 years, retiring as a Surface Warfare Officer. But he never really left the service, finding a second, civilian career at the Pentagon, where he oversaw the design and procurement of the amphibious war ships used to ferry U.S. Marines and their supplies around the world, The Post said.

Gerald L. Read, 58

Gerald Read, 58, was an information assurance specialist with the Navy Sea Systems Command, and spent much of his career in military law enforcement and as a systems analyst, serving in the Republic of Korea and rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Army, according to a profile in The Washington Post.

During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he served at Fort Belvoir, working with the U.S. Army Materiel Command, supervising efforts to supply and maintain forces deployed overseas. In recent years, he turned to civilian work at the Navy Yard, managing security risks related to information and data, The Post said.

His wife told the newspaper that her husband was “totally reliable, really, really solid."

Richard Michael Ridgell, 52

Richard Michael Ridgell, 52, had three daughters, according to a profile in The Washington Post.

Ridgell was a former Maryland State Police officer, working on the force from at least 1983 to 2000, the Post said, and attended Brooklyn Park Jr/Sr High School in Maryland, according to his Facebook page.

Kelly Robbins, Ridgell’s cousin, posted a message on her Facebook profile Tuesday morning after learning of his death: “We sure will miss you cousin Michael! Can’t believe you were one of the 12 taken from us yesterday, kind of feels like a dream that we are all waiting to wake up from. But we all know you are in a better place and watching over each of your family members.

Your laugh, smile & all the memories will help us get through this terrible time. Till we meet again … love and hugs to you.”

Mary Knight, 51

Work opportunities took Mary Frances DeLorenzo Knight all over the world during her decades-long career as an information technology professional, but what really mattered to her was her family, and her two daughters, said Theodore Hisey, her brother-in-law.

“Her daughters were her everything,” he said. “They are in their twenties, so it was all about their colleges, their needs.” He described the daughters as “independent and very grounded.”

Knight, 51, whose LinkedIn profile said that she worked for the Naval Sea Systems Command, had been living in Reston for the last five years or so, and Hisey thought she worked at the Navy Yard for most of that time. She spoke everyday to her younger sister or her daughters, enjoyed working out and was a practicing Catholic, he said.

She was born in Fayetteville, N.C., the middle child of a Green Beret who was an instructor at Fort Bragg, and a stay-at-home mother, Hisey said. Her older brother also works in IT, for the city of San Francisco. Her younger sister lives in Tampa.

Knight graduated from Fayetteville Technical Institute in 1983, received a bachelor’s degree from Raleigh-Durham’s Campbell University in 1998 and a master’s degree in computer resources and information management from Webster University in St. Louis, Mo. in 2004. Her LinkedIn profile also cited a degree from National Defense University in 2011.

“She traveled quite extensively,” Hisey said, and not just within the U.S. “She lived in Germany, wherever the best opportunity was for her.”

She was very outgoing, he said, but also “about as strait-laced as you can get.”

Her LinkedIn profile said she switched just this month from being an information assurance manager at NavSea to a position in cybersecurity. She was also an adjunct assistant professor at Northern Virginia Community College in Loudoun and Annandale.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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