Unarmed soldiers caught up in the deadly Fort Hood shooting rampage as they were preparing to leave for Afghanistan went into combat mode, playing dead to avoid direct gunfire and refusing to leave their fallen comrades behind, a court has heard.
Most took just moments to realise that the chaos of gunfire, smoke and lasers dancing across walls and bodies was not a drill and their survival instincts and military training kicked in.
"I laid back down on the ground and played dead," Spc Alan Carroll told a military court at the Texas base. "I tried to get up again and was shot again in the leg. I was holding my breath, trying not to move. ... If I was moving, I thought he would come to me."
Spc Carroll, who was shot several times in the November 5 2009 attack, gave evidence via a video link from Kandahar, Afghanistan.
The hearing will determine if Major Nidal Hasan, who has been charged with 13 counts of pre-meditated murder and 32 counts of attempted pre-meditated murder, should stand trial.
Prosecutors have not said whether they will seek the death penalty if the case goes to trial.
On the second day of the hearing, several witnesses again said army psychiatrist Hasan shouted "Allahu Akbar!" - "God is Great!" in Arabic - before unleashing a volley of gunfire in a centre where soldiers undergo medical tests before deploying.
They said Hasan started firing toward a crowded waiting area, then walked around and shot soldiers trying to hide under desks, chairs or tables and only paused to reload.
In the days after the shooting, reports emerged that the 40-year-old American-born Muslim had been trying to get out of his pending deployment because he opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Hasan has been paralysed from the chest down since Fort Hood police officers shot him during the attack and attended the hearing in a wheelchair.