They were civilians and contractors, just starting their day at a massive military compound that's normally a bastion of safety.
But for reasons that may never be known, a former Navy reservist cut their lives short when he went on a shooting rampage at Washington's Navy Yard on Monday. Twelve families were left anguished.
The victims are:
• Michael Arnold, 59, of Lorton, Virginia, had a cold Monday, and his wife called to check on him when she heard an alarm in the background. He said he'd call her back, Arnold's mother told CNN affiliate WDIV. He never had the chance.
Arnold -- a veteran of 29 years and avid pilot -- was building his own plane that he hoped to fly to Michigan, where his mother, Patricia, lives, before he turned 60, the station said.
He had two master's degrees from the University of Washington and worked designing ships at the Navy Yard, WDIV reported.
• Kathy Gaarde, 62, of Woodbridge, Virginia, took care of her 94-year-old mother until she died last year, said Douglass Gaarde, her husband of 38 years. She also loved animals and counted bluebirds for a local refuge.
A Chicago native, Gaarde graduated from Florida State University before moving to Washington 38 years ago, where she has been a longtime Washington Capitals season ticket holder.
Douglass Gaarde said he traded e-mails with his wife shortly before the shooting.
"That was the last I heard from her," he told CNN's Anderson Cooper.
"You know, at first you don't think it could happen to her. I mean, there's 3,000 people in there," he said. "But as it gets later in the day ... you know if she was able to get to the phone she would have called home."
Their daughter, Jessica Gaarde, said her mother was the type of person would do anything for anyone she loved.
"I want them (people) to know she lived. She is not a number, or some statistic," she told Cooper.
• John Roger Johnson, 73, of Derwood, Maryland, was an avid fisherman and Redskins fan, CNN affiliate WJLA reported.
His wife described him as an awesome human being.
"He always said, 'Goodbye beautiful, I love you so much,'" said Judy Johnson, according to WJLA. "I was very lucky, and very blessed to find the human being that I found in him."
Her husband "always had a smile on his face," one of his neighbors told The Washington Post, adding that Johnson had lived in the neighborhood for more than 30 years.
A civilian who worked for the Navy, Johnson was described as a "smart man."
"He loved children. He loved our grandchildren. No one could ask for a better neighbor," the neighbor told the newspaper.
• Arthur Daniels, 51, of southeast Washington, D.C., was married to Priscilla Daniels for 30 years. They had five children and nine grandchildren, according to WTTG-TV.
He worked at the Navy Yard as a handyman for 17 years and was on the fourth floor of Building 197 when the shooting began, his wife said.
Daniels loved his family, cooking and dancing to James Brown, WJLA said.
It was the second time a shooting tragedy took a family member from the Daniels.
Daniels' teenage son had lost his life in a similar way, The Washington Post reported. He was shot in the back while running from a gunman.
It happened four years ago, when their 14-year-old son was walking home from the Metro, the newspaper reported.