War memorial recognizes three local fallen soldiers

8 months 4 days 17 hours ago May 21, 2016 May 21, 2016 Saturday, May 21 2016 Saturday, May 21, 2016 11:22:00 AM CDT in News
By: Lauren Barnas, KOMU 8 Reporter
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COLUMBIA – A new war memorial was dedicated Saturday morning to three local heroes killed in action.

The ceremony at the Boone County Courthouse Plaza recognized all veterans of the Cold War, Southwest Asia and the Global War on Terrorism.

Patrick Kelly Connor, Steven Paul Farnen and Sterling William Wyatt were local soldiers who served in these wars and were specially recognized at the service.

Twenty-one year-old Sterling Wyatt died in Afghanistan in 2012. His mother Sherry Wyatt said the event brings back memories from her son’s funeral four years ago, but she appreciates the support.

“When it’s your child, you don’t want their sacrifice to go unnoticed,” Wyatt said. “It’s a very physical way of seeing that he is being recognized by the community. 

Her son, however, might not have been so excited about the attention.

“He would have been totally embarrassed,” she said. “He’s kind of the background guy. He was like the sound guy at church.”

His mom said his humbleness and willingness to help others made him one of many quiet heroes.

“Sometimes you wonder about the guys that are always talking about what they’ve done,” Wyatt said. “You know, the ones that have really been through the trenches, those are the quiet ones.”

This isn’t the first time mid-Missourians have gathered to recognize her son.

Thousands of people showed up to his funeral in July 2012. Neighbors created a human wall to protect the Wyatt family from Westboro Baptist Church picketers. The group's signs suggested Wyatt died to protect the lives of people who identify as gay or lesbian.

“It became the red wall and so it just grew from there. We had support from not only the city, the state, but around the world,” Wyatt said.

She hopes all parents who have lost a child in combat could experience the same kind of support her and her husband Randy have received. Her goal is to get other local soldiers killed in action the same type of recognition.

The Boone County Commission suggests people contact their office if they have a family member who meets these criteria and should be added to the memorial.

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