Marine Recruiter Wounded In Chattanooga Shooting Receives Purple Heart
Sgt. DeMonte Cheeley received the medal in a Chattanooga ceremony presided over by Brig. Gen. Terry Williams, commanding general of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island and Eastern Recruiting Region.
Cheeley was wounded in the leg at the Armed Forces Career Center July 16 by shooter Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez during a terror-inspired rampage that would claim the lives of four Marines and a sailor at the nearby Navy Reserve Center.
Cheeley, the only service member who was shot and survived, returned to his post a week after the attack following a brief hospitalization.
"I can't take anything away from the five brave men who paid the ultimate sacrifice," Cheeley said at the ceremony, according to a Marine Corps news release. "I will wear this in honor of those men and every recipient before me. I can only move forward from here and continue to recruit the future of the Marine Corps.
The five troops who were killed at the Reserve Center, Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, Sgt. Carson A. Holmquist, Lance Cpl. Squire D. "Skip" Wells, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith will all receive the Purple Heart in future ceremonies attended by their families, Marine Corps officials said.
The awards process began after the FBI and Naval Criminal Investigative Service determined in December that Abdulazeez' attack had been "inspired by a foreign terrorist group," a finding that made all six men eligible for the medal.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus -- in his announcement that he planned to award the Purple Heart to Cheeley and others wounded in the shooting -- voiced his hopes that the awards would provide a measure of solace.
"Their heroism and service to our nation will be remembered always," Mabus said.
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