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Police Sgt. Kimberly Munley, Nelson and Jack Aubrey

Police Sgt. Kimberly Munley's courageous response to the killer gunning down soldiers in Fort Hood on November 5th reminded us of Nelson's advice. Five feet four, Sgt Munley didn't wait for reinforcements. She ran straight toward the gunfire to stop it. She took three bullets and lost half her blood at the scene, but she stopped the killer.

Here are a few historical and fictional reflections on her actions, taken from Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander. Jack Aubrey is at dinner, on board the Sophie, a sloop in the Royal Navy, with his lieutenant, James Dillon, and the Sophie's physician, Stephen Maturin.

'Lord, what a pretty action that was', said Jack, when the door was closed. 'A hundred and forty-six to fourteen; or fifteen if you count Mrs Dockray. It is just the kind of thing Nelson might have done - prompt - straight at 'em'.

'You know Lord Nelson, sir?'

I had the honour of serving under him at the Nile', said Jack, 'and of dining in his company twice'. His face broke into a smile at the recollection.

'May I beg you to tell me what kind of a man he is?'

'Oh, you would take to him directly, I am sure. He is very slight - frail - I could pick him up (I mean no disrespect) with one hand. But you know he is a very great man directly. There is something in philosophy called an electrical particle, is there not? A charged atom, if you follow me. He spoke to me on each occasion. The first time it was to say, "May I trouble you for the salt, sir?" - I have always said it as close as I can to his way ever since - you may have noticed it. But the second time I was trying to make my neighbour, a soldier, understand our naval tactics - weather-gage, breaking the line, and so on - and in a pause he leant over with such a smile and said, "Never mind manoeuvres, always go at them." I shall never forget it.'

But life does not always allow going straight at 'em. It is only a little later that Jack realizes an Algerine pirate galley has separated a Norwegian cat from his convoy of merchant shipping. He races after the galley in the Sophie -

The Algerines were in command of the cat: she was falling off before the northerly wind; they were setting her crossjack, and it was clear that they hoped to get away with her. The galley lay in its own length away from her, on her starboard quarter: it lay there motionless on its oars, fourteen great sweeps a side, headed directly towards the Sophie, with its huge lateen sails brailed up loosely to the yards - a long, low, slim vessel, longer than the Sophie but much slighter and narrower: obviously very fast and obviously in enterprising hands. It had a singularly lethal, reptilian air. Its intention was clearly to engage the Sophie or at least to delay her until the prize-crew should have run the cat a mile or so down the wind towards the safety of the coming night. . .

A fleeting cloud of smoke appeared in the galley's bows, a ball hummed overhead, at about the level of the topmast crosstrees, followed in half a heart's beat by the deep boom of the gun that had fired it. . . Jack hurried forward, just in time to see the flash of the galley's second gun. With an enormous smithy-noise the ball struck the fluke of the Sophie's best bower anchor, bent it half over and glanced off into the sea far behind. . .

The Sophie yawed forty-five degrees off her course, presenting quarter of her starboard side to the galley, which instantly sent another eighteen-pound ball into it amidships, just above the water-line, its deep resonant impact surprising Stephen Maturin as he put a ligature round William Musgrave's spouting femoral artery, almost making him miss the loop. But now the Sophie's guns were bearing, and the starboard broadside went off on two successive rolls: the sea beyond the galley spat up in white plumes and the Sophie's deck swirled with smoke, acrid, piercing gunpowder smoke. . .

As far as [Jack] could see they had done the galley no harm: firing low would have meant firing straight into benches packed tight with Christian rowers chained to the oars. . .

Rather than pursue the pirate galley, Jack turned to rescue the cat and its Norwegian sailors and protect the rest of his merchant convoy.

And so it must sometimes be. But not that day with Police Sgt. Kimberly Munley.

UPDATE: It is now thought that the shots which brought down Hasan at Ft Hood may have been fired by Sgt Munley's partner, Senior Sgt Mark Todd. Apparently they were both courageously charging the killer.

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