CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (NNS) — (scroll down for video) — The Department of the Navy and City of Chattanooga held a ceremony Aug. 15 at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga’s, McKenzie Arena in memory of the Sailor and four Marines killed in the Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) shooting on July 16.
The lives of Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, Sgt. Carson Holmquist, Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith, and Lance Cpl. Squire Wells were honored with military traditions.
Marine Corps Band New Orleans and United States Navy Band Sea Chanters provided music as Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, Secretary of the Navy Hon. Ray Mabus, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Greenert and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike Stevens arrived.
Chattanooga Mayor Andrew Berke opened the ceremony by speaking about his community and their appreciation of local service members and the police department.
“I want to say, on the behalf of our entire city, we grieve with you,” said Berke. “God bless these families, our great city and the United States of America.”
Mabus talked about the close relationship between Sailors and Marines.
“We are a family, the Navy and Marine Corps family,” said Mabus. “We work together, serve together, overcome together.”
He repeatedly called the fallen and their former co-workers heroes.
“Heroes are ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances,” said Mabus. “That commitment is the essence of Marines and Sailors.”
With a solemn look on his face, Vice President Joe Biden walked on stage to address the crowd.
“I’m honored to be here to join my colleagues, but as I told the family members, I wish I didn’t have to be here,” said Biden.
Biden spent time speaking about each of the five NOSC Chattanooga service members and said they were the embodiment of confidence, commitment, determination, passion and loyalty, adding, they belonged to “the finest generation of warriors the world has ever known.”
He also had a message for the families of the fallen.
“You’re literally an inspiration and America owes you just for being here,” said Biden.
As the ceremony drew to a close, every head in the arena bowed for the benediction and remained silent for the last ‘Roll Call,’ a tribute paid by service members to their fallen comrades. Echo Taps, played by two members of the Marine Corps band, served as a final solemn salute.
“Although we will heal,” said Mabus. “Our Navy and Marine Corps family will never again be completely whole”.
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