Sprayberry classmates mourn death of Marine killed in Chattanooga

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Lindsey Pittman was surprised when she heard that her close friend Skip Wells wanted to be a Marine. Yet, it made sense.

“He was just a protector,” she said Friday after news broke that the 21-year-old Sprayberry High School graduate was one of four Marines killed Thursday in an attack at the Navy Reserve Support Center in Chattanooga, Tenn. “He looked at everyone with love. And he would go anywhere to protect anybody.”

As a Marine, he could serve and protect.

The Department of Defense had not officially released the names of the four Marines as of early Friday afternoon, but Wells family spokesman Andy Kingery told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Skip Wells was among the dead.

Wells’ grieving mother and other family members were not ready to talk about their loss, he said.

Pittman, who said she and Wells were “marching band nerds” at Sprayberry, was among those who tried to understand the death of the “always smiling” young man from Marietta.

“It just doesn’t make sense,” she said. “It always happens to the good ones.”

“We don’t understand the whys,” Kingery said, adding that Wells “was doing what was asked of him.”

Others who knew Wells poured out their memories and fond feelings for him.

“He always spoke the best of everyone,” said Pittman, who said she and Wells became “fast friends” in sixth grade. “I don’t know anyone else like that. And he was just the goofiest kid … always laughing.”

Another friend, 2013 Sprayberry alumnus Tony Wolcott, remembered playing with Wells in the band.

Wells handled the clarinet; Wolcott the baritone.

“He was a really good leader,” said Wolcott, who is now a music education student at Kennesaw State. “He was someone you could always depend on.

“Whenever something needed to be done, he would take charge and do it, but not in an overpowering way.”

Wells also was a member of the orchestra at his church, First Baptist Church in Woodstock, where he was almost “revered,” Kingery said.

After graduating from Sprayberry in 2012, Wells initially attended Georgia Southern University, where he studied history, according to his Facebook page.

The university issued a statement Friday saying the community was “saddened by the news.” Wells, the school said in the statement, was enrolled as a student at Georgia Southern from 2012 through fall of 2013.

“He went to college,” Kingery said, “(but) felt he wasn’t called to that and felt a calling to serve — in the Marines.”

Wells got out of boot camp about a year ago, Kingery said.

Friends of Wells flooded Facebook overnight and Friday morning with messages of shock and condolence.

More than 100 people left posts on the “Sprayberry High School Memorial” Facebook page that chronicles the deaths of the Marietta school’s alumni.

“Heard the news and immediately went into denial, but the truth is you are gone and for the first time in a long time I’m confused, I don’t know how to act or feel really,” Julio Aberto Pedraza wrote on Wells’ Facebook page, which is filled with photos of the young Marine. “All I can think about is all the good times in high school we had.”

Another friend, Caleb Wheeler, wrote: “Skip Wells, it was one of the pleasures of my life to have had the chance to know you. Until the time comes when I see you again, I will forever have a void in my life that can never be filled.”

James Reid, a neighbor of the family, said he watched Skip Wells grow from a boy to a man.

“He’s someone whose future we thought was going to be very bright,” he said. “This is quite tragic.”

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