Marine Corps wants to award Purple Heart to Chattanooga victims

Marine Corps wants to award Purple Heart to Chattanooga victims
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The Marine Corps is preparing to award the Purple Heart to the four service members killed during last week’s shooting rampage in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The arrangements are being made even as the Marine Corps awaits word from the Federal Bureau of Investigation on whether the suspect, Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez, a 24-year-old Kuwaiti born citizen, had ties with foreign terrorist groups.

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“Determination of eligibility will have to wait until all the facts are gathered and the FBI investigation is complete,” Marine Corps public affairs officer Maj. Clark Carpenter told the Marine Corps Times.

The service is also looking into existing requirements to see if a Purple Heart, the military’s highest honor, can be awarded to a recruiter who was injured in the attack.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainRubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad with pro-communist posts The VA's woes cannot be pinned on any singular administration Overnight Defense: Mattis offers support for Iran deal | McCain blocks nominees over Afghanistan strategy | Trump, Tillerson spilt raises new questions about N. Korea policy MORE (R-Ariz.) told The Washington Times earlier this week that he would seek the medal for the service members, but the FBI has thus far only called Abdulazeez a “homegrown violent extremist.”

Abdulazeez was acting alone, officials have said, and there does not yet appear to be a direct connection to international terrorist groups.

But investigators are looking into a trip he made to Jordan last year, which may reveal a connection to a larger group. 

A provision in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act expanded eligibility for the Purple Heart by broadening what should be considered an attack by a "foreign terrorist organization."

Since the change, the Army has awarded the Purple Heart and the Defense of Freedom Medal, its civilian equivalent, to the victims of the 2009 Fort Hood mass shooting and another attack that killed two soldiers at a recruiting center in Little Rock, Ark.