Two Marines killed by the Chattanooga terrorist in the devastating July 2015 attack are set to receive the highest non-combat award for heroism.
The families of Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan and Staff Sgt. David Wyatt will accept the Navy and Marine Corps Medal on May 7 on behalf of the two deceased Marines, Marine Corps Times reports.
The medal is given to troops who save the lives of others at serious risk to their own well-being.
On July 16, 2015, terrorist Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez attacked two military installations in Chattanooga, Tenn., first at a recruiting center and second at a Navy Reserve Center. A subsequent investigation from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) determined that Abdulazeez had been “motivated by foreign terrorist organization propaganda.”
Abdulazeez’s brutal assault left four Marines dead, Sullivan and Wyatt among the total.
During the attack, Wyatt immediately called the police and Sullivan moved all personnel to safety.
But in the chaos, Wyatt and Sullivan realized that not all personnel had been accounted for, and so they returned back to the support center.
“So Gunnery Sgt. Sullivan and Staff Sgt. Wyatt purposefully returned to the scene of the incident where it was readily apparent that they would be in grave danger, and ultimately sacrificed themselves to ensure the safety of their fellow Marines,” a Marine Corps Forces Reserve spokesman told Marine Corps Times.
The Navy and Marine Corps medal will constitute the second posthumous award for Sullivan and Wyatt, who also previously received the Purple Heart, once the FBI determined that Abdulazeez was a terrorist inspired by foreign organization.
Wyatt’s widow, Lorri, told local station WRCB in December 2015 that she was heavily affected by the Purple Heart award for her deceased husband.
“When I heard he was receiving the Purple Heart, I completely crumbled,” she wrote in a statement. “I am glad he is being given this award, for the bravery that he showed that horrific day. I broke down, knowing he wasn’t going to be able to see it, this wasn’t going to be presented to David, because he is no longer with us.”