Vice President Joe Biden's description of the Chattanooga shooter who killed five military service members in July as a "perverted jihadist" lit up the twitterverse Saturday.
Speaking at a memorial service for the five service members in Chattanooga on Saturday, describing how the city's law enforcement and emergency services sprang into action even as bullets were still flying at the Navy and Marine Reserve Center on July, Biden said, "When this perverted jihadist struck, everyone responded."
Famously plain-spoken, Biden ignored the FBI's calibrated description of Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez as a "homegrown violent extremist." Federal investigators have declined to say that Abdulazeez, a Kuwaiti-born Muslim and naturalized American citizen, was motivated by extreme Islam.
He added what he called "a message for the perverted cowards" of Islamic extremism -- "America never yields, never bends, never cowers."
But Biden spoke mostly from and about shared grief in the deaths of Sgt. Carson Holmquist, 25, Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, 40, Lance Cpl. Squire "Skip" Wells, 21, Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, 35, and U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith, 26.
He paused in front of a memorial display of boots, rifles and helmets, stood with head bowed and hand over his heart. And when he took the stage, Biden started with a wish.
"I wish that I was not here," he said, quietly, at the podium but looking at the families of the dead. "For I have some sense of how hard it is for you to be here."
Biden's 46-year-old son died in May.
See complete story in Sunday's Times Free Press.