July 2015 Casualties

We remember these heroes who gave their lives for freedoms cause and the families they left behind.

On July 16, 2015, Sgt. Carson Holmquist, Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith, Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, Lance Cpl. Squire K. Wells, and Staff Sgt. David A. Wyatt were murdered at a recruiting facility in Chattanooga, TN.

Sgt. Carson A. Holmquist – 25 years old

Sgt. Carson Holmquist grew up in Grantsburg, Wis., a hamlet of about 1,400, best known for its proximity to a wildlife reserve.  Holmquist’s decision to join the Marine Corps in 2009, a year after he graduated from Grantsburg High School, took him out of a tight-knit rural town and exposed him to the world, eventually placing him on the battlefield, as far away as Afghanistan and as close as Tennessee.

According to the Marine Corps, Holmquist, who was trained as an automotive technician, was deployed to Afghanistan from September 2013 to May 2014. It was his only overseas assignment as a Marine. Later, he was stationed in Chattanooga, where he helped train Marine reservists at the facility.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith – 26 years old

Randall Smith, a 26-year-old petty officer, was a married father of three girls.  Smith was from Paulding, Ohio. He was a former high school baseball star who had  enlisted in the Navy in 2010 and was a logistics specialist. For three years, he was assigned to the USS Wasp, an amphibious assault ship which has a home port in Norfolk.  He began his assignment in Chattanooga in August.

Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan – 40 years old

Known to family and friends as “Tommy,” Sullivan was a native of the Springfield, Mass. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Thomas J. Sullivan had made it home safely from two tours in Iraq — receiving two Purple Hearts.

He entered the service in 1997, served in Iraq in 2004-2005 and 2007-2008, and deployed in 2014-2015 to the Asia-Pacific region.  Sullivan received two Purple Hearts during a deployment from fall 2004 to spring 2005. The first came after a seven-ton truck he was in was struck by an improvised explosive device, causing bleeding from his ear. The second came after he was hit with shrapnel during a massive attack on the Abu Ghraib prison in April 2005.

He was recently assigned to a unit in Chattanooga, where he was responsible for coordinating training for reservists.

Lance Cpl. Squire K. Wells – 21 years old

Lance Cpl. Squire K. “Skip” Wells had been a student at Georgia Southern University for nearly two years when he made a judgment call: He wanted to serve in the military, and he didn’t want to wait anymore.  Wells left college and joined the service last year, graduating from boot camp at Parris Island, S.C. He became a field artillery cannoneer, a job that would have him shooting heavy artillery guns in a team of Marines.

He was in Chattanooga, Tenn., for two weeks of reserve training. His unit, Mike Battery, 3rd Battalion, 14th Marines, is based there.

Staff Sgt. David A. Wyatt – 35 years old

Staff Sgt. David A. Wyatt was a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a pillar of support to his comrades in those conflicts who came home with physical or emotional scars.

After Matt Bein was wounded by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in 2009, he turned to Wyatt for help in wrestling through what he should do with the rest of his life — leave the Marine Corps, or find some way to continue to serve despite his injuries.

“He was a mentor and a leader to a lot of guys,” said Bein, a former joint terminal attack controller who ultimately decided to accept a medical retirement as a sergeant.

He was married with two children, and an active-duty member of Mike Battery, 3rd Battalion, 14th Marines, an artillery unit based there.

Wyatt was a native of Russellville, Ark., and joined the Marines in May 2004.  He deployed to Afghanistan from October 2010 to May 2011, one of the most violent periods of the U.S. military campaign there. He previously served in Iraq from October 2007 to April 2008, and also spent time overseas on Navy ships.