Staff Sgt. David Wyatt of Burke County was among four Marines killed in Thursday’s attack on two military facilities in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Wyatt was deployed three times, including twice in Iraq. His family was relieved when he was placed in Tennessee, believing him to be out of danger, said his aunt, Robin Wyatt, on Friday.
“How often over the years we have spoken about how glad we were that David got this posting because he was safe and he couldn't be deployed,” she said.
“It was a time for his family not to worry.”
David Wyatt, 34, was a noncommissioned officer running the Marine reserve in Chattanooga, his aunt said, and was very young for his position.
“He was highly respected,” she said.
Wyatt had been a Marine for more than 11 years. He was previously posted at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, his aunt said.
“He was truly a dedicated husband and father,” she said. “He was a man that had a great exuberance and ability to enjoy life.”
Wyatt was born in Morganton, his aunt said, and his father lived for many years in Charlotte. Wyatt spent his childhood in North Carolina and western Arkansas, she said.
According to his Facebook page, Wyatt lived in Russellville, Ark., and attended the University of Montana.
He was married to his wife, Lorri, for 10 years and had a young son and daughter, his aunt said.
On his wife’s Facebook page, a friend wrote: “There is no sleep tonight.”
“None,” she responded.
Her Facebook profile photo shows her husband with two children holding American flags.
Wyatt was an Eagle Scout, his aunt said, and may have wanted his son to become one as well.
“One of his (Wyatt’s) ambitions was to walk the Appalachian Trail with his father,” she said.
The 11th anniversary of Wyatt’s graduation from boot camp would have been next week, his aunt said.
Casey Pearce, manager of media information for the St. Louis Rams, tweeted that he knew Wyatt in high school.
“Heartbroken to learn one of the Marines killed in Chatt. yesterday was a hs (high school) classmate of mine. Thank you David Wyatt for your service #RIP.”
Wyatt’s aunt said his family will remember his life, not how he died.
“He was a gentleman and a gentle man. He knew how to gently lead others,” she said.
The other victims in the Tennessee attacks:
Ripples of grief were apparent as a stream of visitors brought flowers, food and gifts Friday to the Hampden, Mass., home of Jerry and Betty Sullivan, the parents of Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan. A police officer was stationed outside to keep reporters and onlookers away. Masslive.com said Sullivan, 40, grew up in Springfield, Mass.
The Pentagon said he had been enlisted nearly 18 years, serving two tours of duty in Iraq and earning two Purple Hearts.
Springfield Mayor Dominic Sarno called Sullivan a man who “dedicated his life in brave service.” Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker ordered flags to half-staff as he proclaimed “Terror comes home to Massachusetts.” Sullivan’s unit – India Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines – called him “one of our own” on its Facebook page. A giant U.S. flag and another representing the Marine Corps hung outside a Springfield restaurant owned by Sullivan’s brother Joseph.
“He was our hero,” read a post on the Facebook page of Nathan Bill’s Bar and Restaurant, “and he will never be forgotten.”
Outside the home of Sullivan’s parents, Hampden police Chief Jeff Fansworth told reporters the family was in shock and disbelief.
“How hard would it be for anybody to lose a child?” he asked. “It doesn’t get much harder than that.”
The mother of Lance Cpl. Squire Wells, who was known as Skip, was watching news coverage of the Chattanooga shooting Thursday when a Marine Corps notification team arrived with the dreadful message.
“Every service parent, especially moms, dreads opening the front door and seeing people in uniform,” said Andy Kingery, a friend who is acting as a family spokesman.
Wells was from the Atlanta area and in his early 20s. Kingery said Wells had attended Georgia Southern University but joined the Marines, a decision he said his friend was proud of.
“Skip Wells died doing what he wanted to do and had chosen to do,” Kingery said.
The Pentagon said Wells had enlisted in February 2014 and was a field artillery cannoneer.
So proud a Marine was Sgt. Carson Holmquist that when he finished boot camp, he returned to his hometown of Grantsburg, Wis., and paid a visit to his high school dressed in his formal blues. Grantsburg High School Principal Josh Watt, who was one of Holmquist’s football coaches, remembers the day his former cornerback showed up, the pride in his accomplishment apparent.
“When he became a Marine he was very proud of that,” Watt said Friday.
The principal remembered Holmquist as a strong player, an avid sportsman who loved to hunt and fish, a young man committed to succeeding. He graduated in 2008; the Pentagon said he enlisted in January 2009 and was serving as an automotive maintenance technician. He had completed two deployments as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Reached by phone, the slain Marine’s father said he wasn’t ready to talk yet, and his grandmother declined to comment as well. Sadness over the loss was permeating his small hometown.
“It’s a very tough day in Grantsburg,” Watt said.
Staff researcher Maria David and The Associated Press contributed.
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