Anna Bisaro-“Skip really wanted to make a difference,” his father, Kip Wells, said Sunday in a media event at Buckeye Lake Winery.
Skip was one of four marines to die in a shooting at a military facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on Thursday. A fifth service member died early Saturday.
“I never thought in a million years I would be here,” Wells said. “Since Thursday evening when the marines knocked on my door to let me know, I’ve been trying to think of the right words to say about my son.”
Skip, 21, grew up primarily in Atlanta, Georgia, with his mother, but made frequent trips to central Ohio as a kid and spent time with his father in Hanover.
Wells described Skip as a people person and a “very fun guy.”
“He always wanted to be involved,” Wells said and he had always wanted to be a marine.
The list of military servicemen in the Wells family dates back to Skip’s great-grandfather who served in the U.S. Navy in World War II. Skip’s grandfather was in the Air Force during the Cuban missile crisis, and Wells himself was in the Navy during desert storm.
Wells now lives in the Buckeye Lake region and said that the outpouring of support from the community on Facebook has been helpful to him in the past few days. He also especially thanked his wife, Kim, and his daughter, Skip’s 7-year-old sister, Janessa.
Sen. Jay Hottinger, R-Newark, knows Kim from Newark High School. Wells graduated a year behind them from Licking Valley High School. Wells called Hottinger after he received the news Thursday and the two have been in regular contact since as Wells prepared to make statements to the media.
“As a community and as a country, we are all stunned and saddened by the news,” Hottinger said Sunday. “The last thing that crosses your mind is that (Skip) would fall victim to an act of terror on home soil.”
Wells said he was unaware of Skip’s duties in Chattanooga, but knew he was supposed to be leaving the base soon. Whether it was to deploy overseas is still unclear.
“He volunteered for this,” Wells said. “He wanted to help out.”
Joining Wells on Sunday was Licking County Commissioner Duane Flowers, who has known Wells since he was a kid, and Bill Weaver, Wells’s former elementary school principal in Licking Valley.
“I don’t know where I would be as a father,” Flowers said. “I just want him to know that the community and Licking County support him.”
Wells is still waiting to hear from the Marine Corps about the final funeral arrangements for Skip.
When asked how he wanted his son to be remembered by the community, Wells said, “It’s way too soon to even think about that.”