Mr. Speaker, a gunman with a heart fatally bent on mischief and with malice aforethought unleashed hell in Chattanooga last Thursday. The killer shot up an Armed Forces recruiting center and then drove to a Navy Reserve center and continued his shooting spree. Five warriors were caught in the gunman's furious rampage and were killed. Thekiller, who once followed an al Qaeda cleric online, wounded three others.
To kill the very people who devote their lives to keeping our country safe is ironically and tragically sad. They were fathers, boyfriends, sons, brothers, and friends whose lives were robbed.
The fallen were:
Gunnery Sergeant Thomas J. Sullivan, United States Marine Corps. He was from Massachusetts. Tommy, as his buddies and family called him, was deployed twice during the Iraq war and received two Purple Hearts. He had been enlisted for almost 18 years. The Sullivan family owns a local bar and restaurant in Springfield, Massachusetts, and pictures of red, white, and blue ribbons memorialize the veteran on the restaurants's Facebook page. He was an avid Boston sports fan who loved Boston-based bands and musicians. A friend said: ``He was a short guy, but his personality was a lot bigger than his height. You couldn't just not like Tom.'' He was 41.
Lance Corporal Squire ``Skip'' Wells, United States Marine Corps. He was from Cobb County, Georgia, and the service was in his blood. He was a student attending Georgia Southern University when he decided to follow in the footsteps of his family and enlist. God and country flowed deep in his veins. On Thursday, Skip had been texting with his girlfriend of 2 1/2 years about her upcoming visit to Chattanooga . The last text he sent her was two words in capitalized letters that read, ``active shooter.'' She tried desperately to reach him, but she did not learn about the murders until the next day. He was in his early twenties.
Sergeant Carson A. Holmquist, United States Marine Corps. A patriotic outdoorsman from a small town in Grantsburg, Wisconsin, he joined the Marines right out of high school and was taken to the battlefields in a foreign land. He was deployed to Afghanistan twice as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. It was reported that he was so proud of being a marine that, when he finished boot camp, he went right back to the small town of Grantsburg to visit his high school, dressed in his Marine uniform. He and his wife had a young son and were expecting another. He was 25.
Staff Sergeant David A. Wyatt, United States Marine Corps. He was a native of Russellville, Arkansas. He was a husband and a father. He served one tour of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. He was described as a leader, a mentor, quick to help, and was easy to approach. Wyatt was a father who was overjoyed about the upcoming birth of his second child. He also planned to serve at least 20 years in the military. He was 35.
Petty Officer Second Class Randall Smith, United States Navy. He was a former high school baseball star from Paulding, Ohio, joined the Navy in 2010. He was a pitcher for thePaulding High School Panthers, and he accepted a scholarship to play baseball at Defiance College in Ohio. After a shoulder injury, Smith decided to forego sports and serve his Nation. He was a father and a husband. He had three little girls. According to his Facebook page, he was a passionate sports fan. He was passionate about the United States Women's Soccer team and their World Cup win. He had even a love for the Houston Astros. He was 26.
Good men, good warriors, good Americans--all died before their time. This was a senseless and callous act of hate.
Even though these military facilities in Chattanooga are riddled with bullet holes, they are still a steadfast symbol of the patriotism of our military.
There are not enough tears or words to convey the sorrow that has engulfed this Nation. These volunteers that serve our country are the best that this Nation has, and we continue to mourn their loss and pray for their families and friends.
Ronald Reagan said it best: ``We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free.''
The Chattanooga 5 .
And that is just the way it is.