Friday, March 11, 2016

Andersonville ceremony will honor fallen Marine, living historian 'Skip' Wells

Skip Wells
A memorial ceremony Saturday (March 12) at Andersonville National Historic Site in middle Georgia will honor a Marine who took part in Civil War living history programs until he was killed with four other service members last year in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park cannon crew will perform a salute to colleague Lance Cpl. Squire “Skip” Wells. Wells, 21, of Marietta, Ga., participated in Andersonville events, too, said Jody Mays of Andersonville.

The 2:15 p.m. ceremony, which includes remarks by U.S. Rep Sanford Bishop, is taking place during the site’s living history weekend on Saturday and Sunday. Visitors can learn more about the Confederate prison called Camp Sumter and the lives of POWs and guards.

Living historians portraying Civil War soldiers will perform a 21-gun salute to Wells in a grassy area near the Wisconsin monument (just inside the stockade boundary and not far from the visitor center). The event includes the playing of Taps, the cannon firing and a benediction, Mays said.

In July 2015, a gunman killed four Marines and a Navy sailor at a Navy operational center in Chattanooga. Wells’ mother said, "My son died doing what he loved for the love of his country and his family."

The National Park Service said, “No matter what uniform Skip wore, he remains the epitome of a dedicated professional whose service cannot be replaced.

Wells joined the Kennesaw gun crew after seeing the artillery in action while on a visit, according to the Civil War News. “If he wasn’t shooting cannons with the Marines, he was shooting one here with us,” crew member Andy Cole said.

The Marine was knowledgeable and proficient with two centuries worth of cannons, Cole said last summer. “One time, he had just come off of training in the desert with the Marines, and within 48 or 72 hours of getting back here he was out shooting cannons with us this summer in a wool uniform. That’s dedication. And he loved doing it,” Cole told the Civil War News.

The Andersonville weekend includes guard drills and artillery demonstrations. There is no admission fee. Living historians will be in the prison site from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday.

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