NORFOLK, Va. -- The Navy held a memorial service aboard a warship on Thursday for a sailor who was killed during a shooting in Tennessee that also claimed the lives of four Marines.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith, a 26-year-old reservist on duty, was shot last week at the Armed Forces Recruiting Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He died two days later. The shooter's motives remain unclear to investigators.
The Navy said more than 400 sailors, friends and family members attended the memorial aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp, where Smith served from 2011 to 2014.
"It affects me because I have to come to work every day at the same place where we hung out, where we worked and did everything together down here," Petty Officer 1st Class Richard Avery, Smith's mentor, said in a Navy news release. "You know it's a bond you can't break. I can't explain it but the effect is hard because I think I'm OK when I go home, I'm cool, I'm all right. Don't think about it. And then if I hear anything, a certain type of music that can relate to our relationship, of him being around. I break down."
Thursday's memorial service at Naval Station Norfolk was not open to the public and was held in the Wasp's hangar bay. Pictures taken by the Navy show large photographs of Smith were on display, including one with his wife and another of him at a baseball stadium.
Smith's family has said he was awarded a baseball scholarship to play at Defiance College in Ohio, but decided to join the Navy after being sidelined by a shoulder injury.
"This was where he got his start," Lt. Jonathan Maruszewski, the Wasp's chaplain, said in the Navy news release. "He had a lot of people who knew him. A command where he spent three years of his life, a command where she (Smith's wife) saw him go underway and he came back and he probably talked about memories onboard the ship and the friends he made. This is an opportunity for closure, this is an opportunity for folks to remember and appreciate him."
Smith served as a logistics specialist aboard the Wasp. He was aboard the ship when the first landing of the Marine Corps variant of the F-35 took place in 2011. He was also on the Wasp when it participated in the Bold Alligator exercises off the coast of Virginia and North Carolina in 2012, which was the largest amphibious assault exercise conducted by the Navy and the Marines in a decade.
The Navy says it's uncommon for a command to hold a memorial service for a sailor who had no longer been working there, but that Smith's case was special. Smith is survived by his wife and three daughters.
Read more about the attacks on Chattanooga military facilities