The FBI hasn't declared the July 16 attacks on two Chattanooga military sites terrorism, but Congress is letting its opinion be known.
U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann on Monday told the Times Free Press he had gathered support for a bill that would grant Purple Heart awards for the five U.S. servicemen gunned down July 16 at the U.S. Naval and Marine Reserve Center on Amnicola Highway.
"Chattanooga and America lost five exceptional service members to a horrendous attack on our home soil," Fleischmann said in an email to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. "These men proudly served their country, and several made the ultimate sacrifice while braving fire in order to save others."
The Military Times online newspaper reported last week that Purple Heart packets were prepared for the four Marines — Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, Sgt. Carson A. Holmquist and Lance Cpl. Squire "Skip" Wells — and Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith. But the military was awaiting a declaration by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that the gunman, Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez, was part of or communicating with a foreign terrorist cell.
Fleischmann's bill makes that declaration for them.
"The attack clearly meets the criteria for the award of the Purple Heart to members of the Armed Forces killed or wounded in the attack," according to the resolution.
By mid-afternoon the bill had 63 co-sponsors, and that number was increasing, according to Fleischmann spokesman Tyler Threadgill.
Threadgill said the effort wasn't an attempt to preempt the FBI but was "rather to reinforce the sense of Congress that these men should receive a Purple Heart because they were wounded in service of their country."
Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at firstname.lastname@example.org, @glbrogdoniv on Twitter or at 423-757-6481.