City of Chattanooga chooses artist to honor Fallen Five at Tennessee Riverpark
The Chattanooga City Council will formally vote on an approved memorial to the five service members who gave their lives defending the city on July 16th, 2015.
Staff Sergeant David Wyatt, Sergeant Carson Holmquist, Lance Corporal Squire "Skip" Wells, Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Sullivan, and Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith were killed when a gunman attacked the Naval Operations Support Center just off of Amnicola Highway.
The city has mourned those five heroes ever since that dark day. A memorial already exists at the Marine Recruiting Center on Lee Highway where the shootings began. Now city leaders are moving forward with a plan for a memorial near the site where the Fallen Five gave their lives.
Artists Norman Lee and Shane Allbritton designed the memorial, which has five pillars arranged in a circle. The two artists work for RE:Site studios.
The city had planned to make a formal announcement of the winner of a 3-artist competition at a later date, but this week NewsChannel 9 noticed that a vote on the specific artist's plan appeared on an upcoming City Council Agenda schedule that was emailed to NewsChannel 9. That agenda item asked for approval of a $750,000 contract for construction of Lee & Allbritton's work. Money for this contract will come from the county, city, and fundraising from the Chattanooga Heroes Run.
We then confirmed the news of the selection with artist Norman Lee, who also told us that the City of Chattanooga will release more details about this later on Tuesday. Lee says he will be in Chattanooga in a few weeks for a site visit. The pillars of the memorial imply the shape of a star to honor the gold star families and military personnel who died while in the service.
We're told the City Council will vote on the memorial on February 27th.
The artists say victory, bravery, peace, honor and sacrifice were their inspiration for the "Wreath of Honor" - the centerpiece of the design.
"I think it represents well the symbolism of who they were and what and how much our city appreciates their service," said June Scobee Rodgers, who lives in Chattanooga.
The memorial will be just yards away from the Navy Operational Support Center on Amnicola Highway, where the second round of attacks happened almost three years ago.
"It's crazy to think that it's been so long now," said Gustavo Vasquez.
We showed the winning design for the memorial to people throughout Chattanooga.
"The design is a beautiful representation for those people who sacrificed so much," said Scobee Rodgers.
"It's a great way to respect them," said Vasquez.
"It's an interesting design," said Tom Porterfield. "I like the concept of the wreath overhead suspended."
At least several times a week. Tom Porterfield runs through the section of the River Park where the memorial will be built. When its done, the site will trigger painful memories for him.
"I was out of town when it happened and I came home that night and drove right by there and it really kind of hit home that hey, this happened in my town," said Porterfield. "I would imagine it's gonna bring back those emotions for me. And thinking about those who were serving our country and were killed by that senseless act."
Through tough emotions, other Chattanoogans will make it a point to visit the memorial, and honor those who sacrificed it all.
"They were here to protect us at some point and their memory lives on forever," said Vasquez.