A private Purple Heart ceremony for the Marines killed in Chattanooga reveals the risk facing service members, at home or abroad, and the incredible sacrifice made by military families.
The ceremony was held at the Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on April 20 to honor the four Marines killed during the Chattanooga shootings.
The families of Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, 40, Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, 35, Lance Cpl. Skip Wells, 21, and Sgt. Carson Holmquist, 25, were honored at the event, reports MRCB TV, an NBC news affiliate in Chattanooga.
On July 16, Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez opened fire on a Marine recruiting station in Chattanooga, and then drove seven miles to a nearby naval facility. That’s where the four Marines and the gunman were killed. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith, 26, was also shot that day, and succumbed to his wounds on July 18. The shooter, Abdulazeez, was shot and killed by police.
An investigation by the FBI and Naval Criminal Investigative Service into Abdulazeez’s motive determined the attack was inspired by a foreign terror group, making the Marines eligible for the Purple Heart.
The commanding general for Marine Forces Reserve, Lt. Gen. Rex C. McMillian presented the Purple Heart medals to the families. The command staff with the Chattanooga police department and the town’s mayor, Andy Berke, attended to pay their respects.
“Our brothers were taken from us; your sons, your husbands, your fathers, your brothers were taken from us,” McMillian said during the ceremony.
“But what cannot, and will not ever be taken from us is the incredible impressions they made on each and every one of us,” said McMillian.