Lt. Cmdr Tim White reacts to Purple Heart announcement for Chatt - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Lt. Cmdr Tim White reacts to Purple Heart announcement for Chattanooga shootings victims

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

Six purple hearts will be awarded to the families of five fallen service men and a marine who was shot in the July 16th attacks in Chattanooga.

Family members of some of the victims say there is some relief in knowing the findings of the FBI investigation proved what everyone believed, it was a "terrorist act".

"I knew, I didn't need the FBI Director to tell me," said Cathy Wells, mother of Marine Lance Corporal Skip Wells, "We all knew what it was, the pictures said it, you know, it's like lowering the flags, why did it take so long to lower the flags?"

On the five month anniversary of her son's death, Cathy Wells honored her hero with a permanent flagpole in her driveway.

The FBI's announcement means she will soon be awarded the Purple Heart, on behalf of her son's sacrifice. But Wells still can't help but wonder, why the announcement took so long.

"It seems like July 16th was, in some ways, just yesterday, but in another way, it seems like a long time ago," said Lt. Cmdr Timothy White.

As commanding officer of the Naval Operations Support Center, Lt. Commander Timothy White has been at the front for the last five months.
    
He led efforts against the attacker on that fateful day, firing his own gun in defense, and has been the point man for remembrances public and private, and for getting his unit back to work, ever since.
    
News that the four marines and one sailor killed, and one injured in the assault will receive the Purple Heart is another step in the recovery process.

"For my unit, there was just a breath of relief to know that what we thought was true has come out in the investigation and is now being acknowledged by the Secretary of the Navy," Lt. Cmdr White.

What they thought was that the shootings were indeed an act of terrorism.

"We live in a different time now than we did 10 to 20 years ago, but as a nation we are responding to that threat. As a military, we responded to that threat," Lt. Cmdr White said.

Surviving Marine, Sgt. Demonte Cheeley was wounded in the initial attack at the Lee Highway recruiting station.    

Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, Sgt. Carson A. Holmquist, Lance Cpl. Squire "Skip" Wells, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith were killed on Amnicola Highway.

"They are heroes in every sense of the word and their sacrifice that day was a sacrifice made so that we can all enjoy the freedoms that we enjoy right now," Lt. Cmdr White said.

The Lt. Commander adds, there were other heroes on July 16th, and in the days since.

"The units here have not been alone in the sacrifice and the struggles that we've been facing since July 16th," he said, "The support of the community from Chattanooga Police Department to the Sheriffs department to the media and the community at large has been awesome. It's been overwhelming, but that's what we need in this time."
    
There's no word yet on when or where the Purple Hearts will be awarded.

Also, there's currently no word on whether Sgt. Cheeley or Chattanooga Police Officer Dennis Pedigo will receive the civilian equivalent called the Defense of Freedom medal.

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