Photo Information

Service members, veterans and civilians hold American flags as they stand outside the First Baptist Church of Woodstock entrance, waiting for Lance Cpl. Squire “Skip” Wells’ casket to arrive July 26, 2015 in Woodstock, Georgia. Wells was one of five service members killed during a shooting at the Naval Operational Support Center and Marine Corps Reserve Center on July 16, 2015. More than a thousand people attended the funeral service to pay their respects and show support to Wells and his family.

Photo by Corporal Ian Ferro

Young Marine, national hero

31 Jul 2015 | Cpl. Ian Ferro U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve

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 Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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 his backyard.

“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 Franklin.

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.

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."