Grief crystallizes as victims of rampage identified
The Marine Corps has identified the four men killed in an attack on military facilities in Tennessee.
They were identified Friday by the Marines as Gunnery Sgt. Thomas J. Sullivan of Hampden, Massachusetts; Staff Sgt. David A. Wyatt of Burke, North Carolina; Sgt. Carson A. Holmquist of Polk, Wisconsin; and Lance Cpl. Squire K. Wells of Cobb County, Georgia, who a family spokesman says went by "Skip."
Sullivan was deployed twice during the Iraq war and received two Purple Hearts. Wyatt was deployed during both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, while Holmquist was deployed to Afghanistan.
Here is a look at some of the Marines killed in the attack on two military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee:
Ripples of grief were apparent as a stream of visitors brought flowers, food and gifts Friday to the Hampden, Massachusetts, home of Jerry and Betty Sullivan, the parents of Sgt. Thomas Sullivan. A police officer was stationed outside to keep reporters and onlookers away. Masslive.com said Sullivan, 40, grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts, served two tours of duty in Iraq and earned a Purple Heart.
His hometown mayor, Dominic Sarno, called Sullivan a man who "dedicated his life in brave service." Gov. Charlie Baker ordered flags to half-staff as he proclaimed "Terror comes home to Massachusetts." Sullivan's unit - India Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines - called him "one of our own" on its Facebook page. A giant U.S. flag and another representing the Marine Corps hung outside a Springfield restaurant owned by Sullivan's brother Joseph.
"He was our hero," read a post on the Facebook page of Nathan Bill's Bar and Restaurant, "and he will never be forgotten."
The mother of Skip Wells was watching news coverage of the Chattanooga shooting Thursday when a Marine Corps notification team arrived with the dreadful message.
"Every service parent, especially moms, dreads opening the front door and seeing people in uniform," said Andy Kingery, a friend who is acting as a family spokesman.
Wells was from the Atlanta area and in his early 20s. Kingery said Wells had attended Georgia Southern University but joined the Marines. He was unsure of his friend's rank or the specifics of his job, but Kingery said Wells was proud of being a Marine.
"Skip Wells died doing what he wanted to do and had chosen to do," Kingery said.
So proud a Marine was Sgt. Carson Holmquist that when he finished boot camp, he returned to his hometown of Grantsburg, Wisconsin, and paid a visit to his high school dressed in his formal blues. Grantsburg High School Principal Josh Watt, who was one of Holmquist's football coaches, remembers the day his former cornerback showed up, the pride in his accomplishment apparent.
"When he became a Marine he was very proud of that," Watt said Friday.
The principal remembered Holmquist as a strong player, an avid sportsman who loved to hunt and fish, a young man committed to succeeding. He graduated in 2008; the Pentagon said he enlisted in January 2009 and was serving as an automotive maintenance technician. He had completed two deployments as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Reached by phone, the slain Marine's father said he wasn't ready to talk yet, and his grandmother declined to comment as well. Sadness over the loss was permeating his small hometown.
"It's a very tough day in Grantsburg," Watt said.
Staff Sgt. David Wyatt had been a Marine for more than 11 years and was deployed three times, including twice in Iraq. The Pentagon listed his home as Burke County, North Carolina.
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