JULY 23, 2015, CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (NNS) – Just days ago, a senseless act of violence at both the Chattanooga Navy Recruiting Station and the Navy Operational Support Center claimed the lives of five members of our Department of Navy family.
My deepest sympathies remain with the families of our Sailor and four Marines whose lives were taken during these unimaginable acts of violence. The grave impact reaches far and wide.
On behalf of Navy leadership, I would especially like to thank the Chattanooga Police Department under the leadership of Chief Fletcher, and the first responders who reacted and responded with such veracity and determination that they most certainly saved lives.
Additionally, the leadership from, and the coordination amongst the federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to conduct a thorough investigation are comprehensive and reassuring.
We are committed to work with our partners in law enforcement represented here with me on this stage to investigate, review and guard against future vulnerabilities and to safeguard the security of our service members and their families. It is an absolute imperative.
Throughout our nation’s history, Sailors and Marines have served overseas, in harm’s way, and have experienced the deep and lasting pain of combat loss. Today, here at home, we feel that pain.
And, at the same time, we are reminded that we serve with and alongside brave and valiant Sailors and Marines — just like those at the Recruiting Center and Naval Operational Support Center who are well trained and responded courageously under fire — the best our nation has to offer.
In the days ahead, our priority will be to take care of the families of those affected.
While the tragedy in Chattanooga is both devastating and senseless, the healing process is ongoing. We have brought to town a cadre of chaplains and grief counselors that are here to bolster our service members and their families, and to fold into the great efforts that are already being offered.
The citizens of Chattanooga have been incredibly generous with their thoughts and prayers, which are foundational and continue to make a huge difference during the process of recovery.
There is significant interest in the well-being of Petty Officer Smith’s family, and the same is true for the families of our fallen Marines. I have met with Mrs. Smith; she is a remarkable and resilient woman facing a horrific tragedy. She is appreciative of everyone who has expressed their concern, yet she asks for your understanding in respecting her privacy as she moves ahead during this difficult time.
I can assure you, without a doubt, that we are honored and humbled to serve our nation, both at home and overseas. What Chattanooga has done to rally during this difficult time is the epitome of why we serve.
God Bless America.