NASHVILLE — Tennessee lawmakers this week are paying tribute to the U.S. servicemen slain in the July 16 shooting attack.
On Wednesday, the House voted 92-0 on separate resolutions honoring Marine Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, Marine Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, Marine Lance Cpl. Squire "Skip" Wells, Marine Sgt. Carson Holmquist and Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith, who died two days after the attack.
House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, and other members of the Hamilton County delegation sponsored the measures.
"This has to do with the service members who were killed in July," McCormick told colleagues.
The names of all House members present were added to the resolutions, which describe the men's lives, offer condolences to family members, and call it "fitting that this General Assembly should remember the tragically short, yet courageous," lives of the "exceptional" men.
As they began their annual session Monday, Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, led members in a moment of silence, complete with honor guard, for the men he described as "fallen heroes" in the attack authorities say was carried out by 24-year-old Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez, a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Abdulazeez attacked a U.S. military recruiting center on Lee Highway and then sped by car to Amnicola Highway, where he attacked and fatally shot the servicemen at the U.S. Naval and Marine Reserve Center. He died in a subsequent shootout with Chattanooga police.
The FBI first labeled Abdulazeez a "homegrown violent extremist" but refused to say what might have motivated him.
But following another attack in California in December, and with the Obama administration accused of political correctness by Republicans, FBI Director James Comey said the July 16 Chattanooga attack was "inspired and motivated by foreign terrorist propaganda."
That will result in all five men being awarded Purple Hearts.
In August, McCormick and Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, introduced legislation that offers in-state tuition rates at Tennessee public higher education institutions to dependents of a military parent who "perished as the result of a targeted attack that occurred in Tennessee."
"The Chattanooga community where Sen. Gardenhire and I both live was shocked and rocked this summer, July 16, 2015, when a terrorist attack was perpetrated on the good citizens and the soldiers of that area," Watson told colleagues during Monday's Senate session. "This General Assembly has not had the opportunity to recognize the heroism and pay any respects. I think it's appropriate that we at least acknowledge those who sacrifice so valiantly in the defense of this country and, quite frankly in the defense of their fellow soldiers."
Contact Andy Sher at firstname.lastname@example.org, 615-255-0550 or follow via twitter at AndySher1.