A Joint Base Lewis-McChord Stryker brigade soldier who joined the Army with “open eyes and a willing heart” was killed in Afghanistan by an insurgent bomb Wednesday, the Defense Department announced Thursday.
Spc. Sterling Wyatt, 21, died when an enemy explosive struck his vehicle in Kandahar province.
He enlisted in the Army in 2010, was assigned to the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division and was serving on his first deployment. He arrived at the base in March 2011.
Wyatt’s death marks the fourth fatal casualty for the roughly 700 soldiers in the brigade’s 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment since the unit deployed to Kandahar province in December.
Wyatt was an Eagle Scout from Columbia, Mo. His mother, Sherry, told the Columbia Daily Tribune that her son had a bright future waiting at home. He told his parents he was serving as a gun turret operator for his battalion’s armored vehicles.
“I think he would have been a future leader of the community in some fashion,” she told her hometown newspaper.
Wyatt was 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,” Judy Baker, a former Missouri state representative whose husband is pastor at the church, told the Daily Tribune.
Lewis-McChord has lost 18 soldiers in Afghanistan this year with two of its Stryker brigades stationed in the volatile south.
Two other Lewis-McChord fatal casualties were announced this week from Kandahar province. Staff Sgt. Raul Guerra of the 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade died July 4; Spc. Juan Navarro of the 3rd Brigade was killed July 7.