Wells, he said, had been in the corps’ reserve program at Georgia Southern University, but left school to enlist. He’d reached the rank of lance corporal and soon would have been assigned to active duty, Kingery said.
On the day Wells was killed, Kingery said, the young Marine was on his first day of temporary active duty in a program created for reserve forces.
Wells had always been interested in the military, said Nolan Opp. He met Wells when they were in the sixth grade and remained friends throughout their years at Sprayberry High School.
“We were very close,” said Opp, now a private first class in the U.S. Army, stationed at Fort Stewart. “From the moment I met him, he had a demeanor about him. He was a great guy. … He always wanted to learn. He wanted to be the best he could be at anything he did.”
Wells brought a similar zeal to First Baptist Church of Woodstock, where he played clarinet in the church orchestra.
“You could count on him,” orchestra Director Gary Gaston recalled in an email. “Skip was a genuine follower of Jesus.”
So genuine, Gaston said, that the orchestra director occasionally wondered if his clarinetist was trying to pull a fast one.
“Skip was so polite and courteous that it almost made you suspicious,” Gaston recalled. “Once you got to know him, you discovered he really was that nice.”
A few Sundays ago, said Gaston, the young man came to church. As always, he had his Bible. He wore the full regalia of a U.S. Marine, the dress blues. The congregation stood and applauded. The young Marine beamed.