By BRAD KELLAR
One of the victims of the early Friday morning mass shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado had a connection to Hunt County.
Friends of Rebecca Hernandez Wingo, who graduated from Ford High School in Quinlan, recalled her laugh, her smile and her courage.
“She was one of the smartest people I’ve ever met,” said Melissa Butler Siebenhausen. “She felt like she could conquer the world.”
“It’s just heartbreaking,” added Carmen Lee Carroll. “She was absolutely perfect, inside and out.”
At least a dozen people were killed and 59 others were wounded by a gunman who opened fire in the theater where the victims had gathered to watch the newest Batman film. Wingo was one of the fatalities.
“She was my best friend,” Siebenhausen said.
Wingo, then Rebecca “Becky” Hernandez, graduated the high school in Quinlan in 1997.
Siebenhausen said they met before their freshman year, after Wingo moved to Quinlan from Missouri. She went back to Springfield for a time, but returned for her junior year and studied journalism.
Siebenhausen, Carroll and Wingo were part of a tight circle of friends.
“We were inseparable,” Siebenhausen said.
“We would all just go hang out and do girl stuff,” Carroll said.
Wingo joined the Air Force after graduating. Wingo, who spoke Mandarin Chinese, specialized in cryptolinguistics.She married and was stationed in Hawaii for a while, then was stationed in Aurora, where she remained after her enlistment.
“She just loved it up there and that’s where she decided to stay," Siebenhausen said
Wingo was the mother of two children.
“She was all about her babies, those two little girls,” Siebenhausen said.
Wingo’s mother also moved to Aurora about a year ago, to help with the children, but Carroll said she had a brother who was still in the area.
“I think he is either in Colorado or on his way there right now,” Carroll said.
Siebenhausen and Carroll both learned of their friend’s death the same way, by viewing her Facebook page shortly after the shooting, where someone had asked for her family and friends to contact him immediately.
Wingo’s death has left two friends with cherished memories.
“She did not hesitate to do anything,” Siebenhausen said. "She would always speak the truth, and do what's right. She had integrity."
“I just remember her smile,” Carroll said.