Marine Recruiter Sgt. Demonte Cheeley receives Purple Heart
Marine Recruiter, Sgt. Demonte Cheeley, will be awarded the Purple Heart in a private ceremony tomorrow morning. Cheeley was shot on July 16 in the attacks that killed four marines and a navy sailor.
Sgt. Demonte R. Cheeley was awarded the Purple Heart medal during a private ceremony, Tuesday morning.
He was presented the medal by the Commanding General of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island and Eastern Recruiting Region, Brig. Gen. Terry V. Williams for injuries he sustained during the July 16, 2015 terrorist attack in Chattanooga.
Sgt. Cheeley was the first marine to be wounded, he suffered a gunshot wound to his leg when the shooter opened fire on the Armed Forces Career Center off of Lee Highway, where he works. The shooter went on to attack the Navy Reserve Center off of Amnicola Highway, where four marines and one navy sailor paid the ultimate sacrifice. People call Sgt. Cheeley a hero...
"Yes, I don't like it all," said Sgt. Demonte Cheeley.
He says he was just doing his job. The five service members killed in the attacks: 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 be posthumously awarded the Purple Heart medal during separate ceremonies requested by their families.
"To the family of the fallen 5, I will wear this purple heart in honor of them," said Sgt. Cheeley. "I just don't want this to ever be forgotten, the events of July 16 to never be forgotten, the fallen 5... I never want them forgotten."
The purple heart is one of the most recognized and respected awards by the U.S Armed forces. It's awarded in the name of the president to those wounded or killed while serving. Cheeley was eligible for the award after an investigation conducted by the FBI and the Navy Criminal Investigative Service determined the attack had been inspired by a foreign terrorist group.
"What I've always been taught is the purple heart is a combat award, being deployed overseas and for me to receive it in Chattanooga Tennessee.... I kind of have mixed feelings about it," said Sgt. Cheeley.
He says the honor will always be close to his heart.
"When I wear it on my uniform everyday it's not just a medal it's also a ribbon. Reporter: " It's a part of you?" Cheeley: "Yes."
Next to his desk, sits another kind of purple heart that was hand-made with love.
Reporter: "What do you want the community to know?" Cheeley: " That their continued support doesn't go unnoticed, we really appreciate everything they do here in Chattanooga. The police department, the city of Chattanooga after July 16th events even to this day ...we really appreciate it."