The four Marines who were shot and killed last week in Chattanooga, Tennessee, may receive the Purple Heart, Matthew Schehl reports at Marine Times.
“Determination of eligibility will have to wait until all the facts are gathered and the FBI investigation is complete,” Marine Corps public affairs officer Maj. Clark Carpenter told the Times.
While the Corps has confirmed it had prepared Purple Heart award packages, it must wait to see whether the FBI formally determines the shooter, 24-year-old Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, had ties to a foreign terrorist organization. This would satisfy the criteria for the awarding of the Purple Heart, which is awarded to any service member who has been wounded or killed in combat and — since 1973 — as a result of an international terrorist attack.
“We will make sure it happens,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told The Washington Times.
From The Chattanooga Times Free Press:
The shooter used a rented Mustang to smash through the front gate of the complex, according to the FBI, then jumped out of the car and attacked the reserve center armed with an assault rifle, handgun and ammunition. As Abdulazeez approached, an unidentified service member inside fired at him.
Abdulazeez responded by firing back. He made it inside the door and mortally wounded U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith, 26.
The attack on two military installations claimed the lives of four Marines: Sgt. Carson A. Holmquist, 26, Gunnery Sgt. Thomas J. Sullivan, 40, Lance Cpl. Squire K. “Skip” Wells, 21, and Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, 37. Sailor Randall Smith, 26, was initially injured but later died from his wounds.
The attack was halted after Abdulazeez was killed by police.
The move seems a proactive measure by the Marine Corps — quite different from the Army’s handling of the the Fort Hood shooting in 2009. Thirteen people were killed and more than 30 were wounded in the attack, but family members had to fight for years for the award and its associated benefits. It was finally awarded earlier this year, Army Times reported.