WOODSTOCK — Members of First Baptist Church took time to pray for those killed in the July 16 shooting at a military recruitment office a little more than an hour away in Chattanooga, Tenn., particularly for Lance Cpl. Skip Wells, a member of the congregation who had played clarinet in the orchestra.
At Sunday Services yesterday, a single Marine flag stood in place of the chair Wells occupied for many years.
“As we held hands and prayed for his family, I lost it,” wrote Callie Jones in her Facebook post accompanying a picture of the orchestra and Wells’ Marine photo. “While I am mourning the loss of a sweet kid who loved his country, my heart was crushed for his momma!! … Heavenly Father please comfort Skip’s momma and the other 4 mommas that lost their baby on Thursday!”
Wes Cantrell, WFBC’s young adult pastor, Tweeted a picture of the stage as well, commenting, “The marine flag took the place of Lance Corporal Skip Wells in the orchestra today. #SemperFi”
Wells was a 2012 graduate of Sprayberry High School who attended Georgia Southern University for a time before feeling a call to enlist in the Marines. “He got out of boot camp about a year ago and was doing what was asked of him,” family spokesman Andy Kingery told the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Those who died with Wells were Gunnery Sgt. Thomas J. Sullivan, a two-time Purple Heart recipient from Hampden, Mass.; Sgt. Carson A. Holmquist, of Polk, Wis.; Staff Sgt. David A. Wyatt of Burke, N.C.; and Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith, originally of Paulding, Ohio who was living in the north Georgia town of Rossville with his wife and three young daughters. Smith was seriously wounded in the attack and died from his wounds July 18.
Military service was a part of his family’s DNA, as Wells’ great grandfather served during World War II, his grandfather in the Air Force during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and his father Kip during Operation Desert Storm, the latter recollected in a statement to the media.
‘The kind of young man you could count on’
Skip Wells’ contributions at First Woodstock were addressed before a time of prayer yesterday morning.
Relaying the words of Gary Gaston, orchestra director, Jake Holman expressed continued calls of prayer for the Wells family as well as all others affected. “Gary said Skip was the kind of young man you could always count on,” said Holman, a staff member in the church’s music department. “He always showed up early and stayed until everyone was gone. He always had his Bible with him when he came to church [and] related well to people of all ages.”
Holman then relayed information passed along to Wells’ mother, Cathy. Instead of choosing a path of escape, Wells had gone back to help a friend climb a fence in eluding the shooter.
“In the effort to try and help one of his friends he lost his own life,” Holman told the crowd.