They’re also dressed in their typical dress blue “Delta” uniform, which includes a short-sleeve khaki shirt with ribbons and blue dress pants. That comes after commanders in Tennessee briefly told recruiters to change out of their uniforms, angering some service members and veterans who thought doing so showed weakness.
The return to some semblance of normalcy comes after the shooter, Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez, 24, opened fire on the recruiting station and the naval reserve support center several miles away. No one was killed at the recruiting station, but Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, 40; Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, 35; Sgt. Carson A. Holmquist; Lance Cpl. Squire D. “Skip” Wells, 21; and Petty Officer 2nd Class Randall Smith, 26; were mortally wounded at the reserve center.
The Marine Corps has faced tough criticism after Pentagon officials described some of the measures its commanders put in place following the shooting. They included closing all recruiting stations within 40 miles of Chattanooga, telling some recruiters not to wear uniforms and boosting the force protection status to “Charlie,” indicating an increased terrorist threat exists, according to a statement released Monday.
Navy Seal veteran Marcus Luttrell, whose story was depicted in the movie “Lone Survivor,” took to Facebook on Monday night and said he “laughed out loud” when he heard about the measures taken, adding that service members “don’t take off our uniforms” or drop their weapons in the face of adversity. Marine veteran Dakota Meyer, a Medal of Honor recipient, wrote on his Facebook page that he considered the decision to not wear uniforms “absolutely asinine” and a “slap in the face.”
The Defense Department released a statement Monday saying that the measures had been put in place by Marine Corps Recruiting Command, the national organization overseeing all Marine recruiting. But that isn’t right, Marine Corps officials said Tuesday. Rather, the decision not to wear uniforms was made on a temporary basis shortly after the attack at Recruiting Station Nashville and applied to its subordinate facilities, which include the smaller center in Chattanooga and 14 other similar centers in Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama and western Georgia.
The decision not to wear uniforms never applied nationally to recruiters across the country, Garn said.
A statement released by Marine Corps Recruiting Command late Tuesday provided more detail.
“There have been a number of erroneous reports recently that attribute decisions to Marine Corps Recruiting Command leadership directing recruiters to take off their uniform in the performance of their duties,” it said. “At no time was there an order or directive for Marines to remove their uniform. There was a time on Thursday, however, where Marines in the vicinity of Chattanooga were told to close two small recruiting offices, change into civilian clothes, and go to their homes to wait for further instruction. This guidance was disseminated when there was an active and unknown threat to service members and civilians alike. The Marines of MCRC will always be in uniform when on duty.”
In addition to the service members killed, the wounded included Sgt. Demonte Cheeley, a recruiter in Chattanooga, Marine officials said. The extent of his injuries were not immediately clear, but they are not considered life-threatening.
This story has been updated to include the statement from Recruiting Command.