Friday, July 13, 2012

Defense Department Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Spc. Sterling W. Wyatt, 21, of Columbia, Mo., died July 11, in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when his vehicle was attacked with an enemy improvised explosive device.

Wyatt was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

According to his mother, Sherry Wyatt, her son was killed while on patrol and in transit between two bases in Afghanistan. She said he entered the military knowing full well that he could be deployed to a foreign theater. He was stationed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and was assigned as a gun turret operator on armored vehicles.

"He went into it with open eyes and a willing heart," she said.

A 2009 graduate of Rock Bridge High School, Wyatt joined the Army in November 2010 and deployed on this combat mission in December 2011. This was his first deployment.

The young soldier was an Eagle Scout and had a history of community service.  As part of his efforts to obtain the rank of Eagle Scout, Wyatt constructed a walkway in a courtyard at Shepard Boulevard Elementary School leading to an outdoor classroom. The project was intended to make travel easier for students who use wheelchairs.

"I think he would have been a future leader of the community in some fashion," his mother said.

Jeff Guillory, who serves as scoutmaster for Wyatt's former Boy Scout troop, said he was surprised when Wyatt joined the Army. But, he said, the young man felt it was part of his "duty to God and country, as it says in the Scouts oath."

Guillory described Wyatt as "very loyal to his friends and family."

Wyatt was also a member of Columbia’s First Baptist Church, and he carried out community service projects in his hometown.

“He left Columbia a boy, and he’s coming back a hero,” said Judy Baker, a former Missouri state representative whose husband is pastor at the church.

Wyatt had earned the following awards and decorations:  National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with campaign star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Ribbon, NATO Medal, Certificate of Achievement, and Combat Infantryman Badge.

In addition to his mother, he is survived by his father, Randy Wyatt, and a brother.

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