U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is expected to join Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and a host of other elected officials in a citywide memorial service for the five military men killed in Chattanooga on July 16.
"We just want to take the opportunity to not only thank the community of Chattanooga for all their support but we want to formally honor the lives of the fallen service members," said Capt. Andrew Chrestman, Marine Forces Reserve spokesman.
The Marine Forces Reserve, the Navy Reserve and the City of Chattanooga will hold the service at 2 p.m. Saturday at McKenzie Arena, 720 E. 4th St., according to a news release.
U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke also are expected to attend.
"This is an unprecedented incident, and his [Carter's] office was interested in coming and doing its part to honor the men," Chrestman said when asked what motivated Carter to attend.
Mayor Berke encourages all Chattanoogans who are able to attend Saturday's event at McKenzie Arena and show support to the families of the five men who lost their lives to the July 16 shooting, said Lacie Stone, the city's communications director.
"This is an important opportunity to come together and show our appreciation and gratitude for their service," she stated in an email Monday.
Small bags will be screened at the memorial. Availability is limited to 8,500 seats on a first-come basis.
The memorial service is scheduled nearly one month after 24-year-old Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez killed four U.S. Marines and a Navy sailor at the U.S. Naval and Marine Reserve Center on Amnicola Highway. Chattanooga police shot and killed Abdulazeez during the incident.
The four Marines killed included Thomas Sullivan, Squire "Skip" Wells, David Wyatt and Carson Holmquist. U.S. Navy Petty Officer Randall Smith also was shot and succumbed to his injury two days later.
Chattanooga residents displayed flags, attended memorial services and lined Amnicola Highway with red, white and blue balloons, flowers and flags to show support.
Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 757-6431.