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One Year Later: Military wife recalls horror of the unknown on July 16th

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

Kelly Cotton is a local military wife who has become best friends with some of the women whose husbands were killed on July 16th.

She tells Channel 3 sometimes they laugh, and sometimes they still cry but are forever bonded by what happened that day.

The morning of July 16th was a blur for Cotton. Her husband, Chris, works at the Naval Reserve Center.

After news broke of the shooting, he wasn't answering his phone.

"I kept texting my husband, like, where are you? What's going on? I have the TV on now. Please, just tell me something," she remembered.

"Finally, I got a text. And all it said was, 'I'm OK.'"

At that time, details were still limited. So Cotton started calling friends, checking in with other wives whose husbands worked at the reserve center; trying to piece together what was happening.

"Then, it was the question: Have you heard from your husband? Have you gotten a text? Have you gotten a phone call?" she said.

She talked to Lorri Wyatt, wife of Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, first.

"She told me that she had gotten a notification on her phone that David had made a 911 call, and she hadn't heard anything," Cotton recalled.

Then, she phoned Sgt. Carson Holmquist's wife, Jasmine.

"She was working, and she said she knew what was going on, but she hadn't heard from Carson," Cotton added.

Minutes turned into hours, that turned into anguish... until Cotton's husband got home.

By that time, he told her four Marines were killed.

"I can just very distinctly still remember his face," Cotton said. "I said, 'What happened?' And he said, 'They're my men, and they're gone.'"

"I asked who, and he told me. And I said, we have to go. We have to go over to Lorri's, and we have to go to Jasmine's. And he said, no, we have to wait for the notification."

Within a few minutes, Cotton's phone started to ring.

It was Lorri Wyatt, and then Jasmine Holmquist, who had just learned their husbands were dead.

They both asked Cotton to stop by their homes the next morning.

"The only words were just, 'We're here. We'll be with you. You're not gonna do this alone.'"

Cotton has been there ever since, finding friendship and getting through tragedy together.

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