Derek A. Wyatt
Corporal, United States Marine Corps
Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 1120-10
DOD Identifies Marine Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Corporal Derek A. Wyatt, 25, of Akron, Ohio, died December 6, 2010, while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, California.
For additional background information on this Marine, news media representatives may contact the 1st Marine Division public affairs office at 760-725-8766.
9 December 2011:
AKRON, Ohio - Twenty-five-year-old Sergeant Derek Wyatt, of Akron, was reportedly killed in the line of duty by a sniper while leading other Marines in Afghanistan on Monday.
The next evening, Wyatt's wife, Kait, gave birth to the couple's baby boy, Michael, at Camp Pendleton in California.
"Knowing that Derek passed away the day before his son was born, that's sad," said Master Sgt. John MacLean, who was Wyatt's ROTC Marine instructor at East High School in Akron. Wyatt graduated from the school in 2004.
The day before Wyatt was deployed to Afghanistan last October, he spent time on a California beach with his pregnant wife, who is a Marine veteran.
They picked a name for their child and on the beach they wrote, "Derek + Kait = Michael."
Wyatt's friends said they'll remember Derek as a man who was always there for them. Now, those friends say they'll be there for Michael. He will never meet his dad, but he will always know him.
"Let Michael know that his father was something amazing. Try to tell stories and give memories to Michael that will hopefully stick with him for the rest of his life," said Stephen Price, Wyatt's close friend.
Master Sgt. MacLean said Wyatt lived his life with honor, commitment and courage.
"He's my hero, sir. He paid the ultimate price," MacLean said.
Donations for the Wyatt family were accepted at the girl's varsity basketball game on Thursday evening at East High School. Before the game, spectators stood for a moment of silence to remember Wyatt.
Contributions will also accepted during a public memorial service on Sunday from 1p.m. to 4 p.m. at the school's auditorium.
Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic said all flags on public buildings in the city should be flown at half-staff to honor Sergeant Wyatt.
"He didn't die. He changed jobs," MacLean said.
"He went from being a Marine here on earth to guarding the gates of Heaven.
That's what Marines do."
AKRON, OhioŚ Relatives of Sergeant Derek Wyatt, 25, say even as an R.O.T.C Cadet at East High School in Akron, he was special.
"His brother, Josh, was the one who really got into it first and then he really took over and was head of his class," said Greg Wyatt, Derek's Uncle.
Sergeant Wyatt was killed in action Monday while serving a tour of duty in Afghanistan. It was his first combat mission after re-enlisting.
"He went to a second term in the military. He didn't have to. He actually had a job in Washington D.C. for the military so he wanted to be on the front lines," said his uncle. "That's what he wanted to do and I honor that. He is, in my heart, a hero."
Wyatt's R.O.T.C. instructor, Retired Master Sergeant John Maclean, says of all of the students he has had over the past ten years, Wyatt was extraordinary.
"One of the things I thought was impressive with him was throughout his whole school years, from when he was little throughout the 12th grade, Derek never missed a day of school," said Maclean.
"Even on senior skip day, I said to Derek, 'Why aren't you with the other seniors?' And he said, 'I am supposed to be where I am at,'" added Maclean.
Sgt. Wyatt was killed the day before his wife was expecting to deliver their first child. Relatives say the baby, a boy named Michael, was delivered Tuesday night.
"(His wife) found out the news the day before they expected to have their baby," said his uncle. "With Christmas coming up, I just want to make sure she gets the message that everybody cares about her, that we are there for her also, too, even though she is far away."
"The boy's name is Michael, they have named him already and he will be loved and hopefully he will see this and know that Dad loved him," said Wyatt.
A Facebook page called RIP Derek Wyatt has been started, allowing friends to honor the fallen Marine. A memorial ceremony is also planned at East High School for 1 p.m. on Sunday.
"This isn't something I am just saying because he just got killed, but I mean, I literally can't say anything bad about this young man," said Maclean, who uses Wyatt as an example for his present students of how they should live their lives.
"It's devastating," concluded Wyatt's uncle.
"But I'm proud of him."
It was led by ''The President's Own'' United States Marine Band at Arlington National Cemetery.
Kait Wyatt, the widow of Marine Corporal Derek Wyatt, said she experienced some closure on the cold afternoon. She gave birth to their son Michael the day after her husband was killed last month in Afghanistan.
''It feels good knowing Derek is now resting in peace,'' said Kait, 22, herself a former Marine.
The ceremony included the playing of the Marines' Hymn.
Corporal Wyatt, 25, a 2004 graduate of East High School, was killed December 6, 2010.
The Marine's widow, holding their infant son, led more than 50 others including family members and friends as the funeral procession made its way slowly through the cemetery.
At the ceremony, Wyatt's mother, Lolita Storey, of Randolph Township, held her grandson, Michael, who was wrapped in a blue blanket. She gently rocked him back and forth as American flags were presented to her son's widow, to herself and to her son's father, Allen Wyatt of Akron.
Wyatt was the 198th service member killed in Afghanistan to be buried at Arlington.
The Marines who took part in the somber ceremony are part of the prestigious Marine Barracks 8th & I in Washington, D.C., where Wyatt also served. The fallen Marine had previously served with the unit and worked security at the White House. He also served in Okinawa, Japan, where he met his wife.
Two hours before the burial, a funeral service was held at the Demaine Funeral Home in Springfield, Virginia. The ceremony there was led by Arlington National Cemetery chaplain Navy Lieutenant Johnathan Bush, and Kait Wyatt also spoke.
Bush urged those in attendance to hold on to the good memories and be ''changed because of Derek'' and the way he lived his life and ''continue his legacy.''
Marine Sergeant Jonathan Avalos, who served with Wyatt at Camp Pendleton in California, came to Virginia for the burial along with several other Marines.
''He was a great guy,'' Avalos said.
Friday wasn't the first Marine burial Kait Wyatt attended.
In the spring of 2009, she and her husband watched the burial of their friend, Marine Sergeant James McIlvaine, at Arlington National Cemetery. He was killed in battle in Iraq.
At that time, she said, she held the hands of McIlvaine's widow as her friend went through the pain of losing her husband.
''Now I am the widow,'' Kait Wyatt said.
In spite of the pain, she said, she is holding up as well as could be expected. The support she and her son have received has been phenomenal, she said.
She tries to remember her husband's upbeat attitude.
''He wanted everybody to be as happy as he was,'' she said.
Even as he faced hostilities on a daily basis in Afghanistan, Kait Wyatt said, he was always more concerned about her and their unborn son's well-being.
It hurts, she said, to know that he never heard the news that he was the father of a healthy baby boy.
But she is comforted that her son will grow up surrounded by love. And the thought that Derek will always be there.
''He is looking down on us with love,'' she said.
WYATT, DEREK ALLEN
Posted: 8 January 2011 Updated: 12 February 2011 Updated: 5 April 2011
Photos By Eileen Horan, March 2011
Photos By Eileen Horan, January 2011