July 31, 2015 --
Hundreds of flags sway in the warm Georgia
breeze. A red, white and blue line of flags, held by veterans and supporters,
shoulder to shoulder, flank the road on July 26, 2015, leading to the entrance of
the First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Georgia. The hearse arrives, and the
casket, draped with an American flag, is carried by six Marines into the church
as the surrounding crowd slowly salutes. Inside the church, more than 2,500
people are present to pay their respects to Lance Cpl. Squire “Skip” Wells.
Wells was pursuing his dream career as a United
States Marine when his life was violently cut short on July 16, 2015 at the age
of 21. Wells and five other service members were killed during a shooting at
the Naval Operational Support Center and Marine Corps Reserve Center in
Wells had a
short career. However, he developed his interest for the military well into his
childhood. As a young boy, Wells painted toy soldiers with his grandfather,
according to Jerek Q. D. Aloisio, Wells’ best friend. Wells and Aloisio would
often watch “Band of Brothers” and “Saving Private Ryan” together, as well as
play with toy guns, shooting imaginary bad guys and reenacting historic wars in
“We used to put cans in the can crusher, yell random
coordinates and press it down pretending it was an artillery cannon,” said
Aloisio. “Together we found his calling.”
During high school, Wells successfully followed his
mother’s footsteps as a clarinet player for the school’s band. Yet, the pursuit
for his military career was not left behind. In addition to his regular class
schedule and his extra-curricular time with the band, Wells also joined the
school’s the Jurnior Reserve Officer Training Corps program.
During his JROTC career, Wells earned the rank of
chief petty officer, received The Most Improved Cadet Award and placed top
three in three different drill competitions. Gunnery Sgt. Joe L. Ingram, naval
science instructor for Sprayberry High School JROTC, described Wells as a model
and outstanding cadet.
“He was motivated, tactful and compassionate about
the military. He loved the Marine Corps,” said Ingram. “Everybody loved him; he
was always respectful and always smiling."
Once he graduated with the class of 2012, Wells
visited the Recruiting Sub-Station Kennesaw and became a Marine Corps poolee, taking
the first step into his military career.
According to Staff Sgt. Daniel J. Franklin, RSS
Kennesaw recruiter, Wells walked into his recruiting station for the first
time, two days before Christmas.
“We were literally about to begin our Christmas
holiday, when he walked into the office and said ‘I want to be a Marine,’” said
After looking at all the military occupational specialties
available, Wells’ first choice was to become a field artillery cannoneer and he
was pretty excited about it, Franklin recalled. Wells was only a poolee for
three weeks before he received an important call from Franklin, asking if he
was ready to go to recruit training. Without a second of hesitation he shouted
a vigorous yes through the phone, said Franklin.
Franklin describes Wells as a very sincere and highly
motivated young man, with a great desire and drive for success.
“One thing that always comes to my mind when I think
of Skip Wells is the fact that he was a hell of a Marine,” said Franklin. “We
lost an all-around good guy, who would always look around for everybody else before
he looked out for himself.”
Upon graduating from Marine Corps Recruit Depot
Parris Island, South Carolina during May 2014, Wells attended the School of Infantry East Marine combat
training and MOS school prior to checking in with his unit, Battery M, 3rd
Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve,
Chattanooga Tennessee during June, 2014.
"Within months in the new unit, Wells started to develop
a reputation as a good and dedicated Marine," said 1st Sgt. John Coyne, First
Sergeant for Battery M. \
Wells was eager to learn, and constantly asking his
leadership for advice on how to improve himself as a Marine and improve his
career, Coyne added.
"He was what we call a hard charger," said
Coyne also recalled a training exercise in
Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, when Wells was involved in an accident with a sledgehammer.
After having his injury examined, it was decided Wells should be detached from
the exercise in order to receive proper medical care. Coyne quoted his junior
Marine with a loud voice and an expression of pride on his face; ‘First Sgt., I
will not leave my weapon. I’ll refuse medical treatment, but I’m
not leaving my position.’
"He cared more about his fellow Marines and the
mission than he did his personal safety,” Coyne added. “That's what he was
doing July 16."