Photo by Hayden Seay. Operation Lieutenant John Boe (Right) and SVO co-chair and Army veteran, Jeremy Bryson (left) lower the flag to half staff.

By Hayden Seay, Chattanooga, Tenn. — A vigil to honor the four marines who lost their lives in yesterday’s attacks was held on UTC’s campus Friday morning.

Mohammad Yousef Abdulazeez, a 24-year-old UTC graduate, carried out attacks Thursday morning on two separate Chattanooga military installations, claiming the lives of Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, Lance Cpl. Skip Wells, Sgt. Carson Holmquist and Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, and injuring at least three others.

Somber mourners lined in front of the University Center’s flagpole, where Chancellor Steven Angle and others spoke. Veterans gathered in front of the flag to salute it during a moment of silence and followed with the National Anthem.

After the vigil, Chancellor Angle said, “Our thoughts and prayers and our grief is certainly with the families of the marines who lost their lives. This community is suffering through such an unimaginable tragedy.”
Also among the mourners were students and members of the university’s administration.

Ainsley Chilton, a junior from Trenton, Ga., said “I came today to support the victims. It really hit hard since it was so close to home.”

Shelby Davenport, a sophomore from Murfreesboro, said Chilton asked her come to the vigil to pay respect to the fallen marines, the city and the country.

“It happens in other cities, and then yesterday, when it happened here it was really surreal,” said Linda Orth, the university’s registrar. “It’s just unbelievably tragic, I came here today to honor veterans and those that were killed yesterday, honor those that served.”

Jeremy Bryson, the co-chair of the Student Veterans Organization and army veteran said the shooting’s effect on the campus is similar to its effect on the community as a whole.

“The effect the shooting had on the campus is just like what it is in the community,” Bryson said. “There is sadness here, we don’t know what is happening, there is confusion, and it’s a time to mourn but it is also a time to celebrate [the lives of the marines].”

Ashley Combs, a student, navy veteran and member of the SVO’s board said, “I hope it will bring us all together and make us realize that even in our small southern town in Tennessee, if it can happen here, it can happen anywhere.”

Students in need of counseling can contact the Counseling and Personal Development Center, which is located in the University Center and can be reached at 423-425-4438.