Memorial Tree For Fallen Kilgore Soldier

A Kilgore soldier who fell in combat in Iraq was remembered at home Friday in a special ceremony. In October of 2003 the Wyatt family of Kilgore got the news. 19-year-old PFC Stephen Wyatt had been killed while serving for the army in Iraq. Today in a simple ceremony, he was remembered with the planting of a tree and a stone marker at the Kilgore Veteran's Memorial.

"I think he'd appreciate it a whole lot, it means a lot to us and I know it would to him," said Stephens father, Charles Wyatt.

Stephen was killed in Balad, Iraq when his convoy was hit by an improvised explosive device and small arms fire. On Friday, his father placed the permanent marker.

"It's a tragedy for the family, but also for the community. Had Stephen not lost his life in Iraq he could have come back to Kilgore and no telling what he could have done. Our future is still alive because of what he did," said Kilgore Mayor Joe Parker.

"He thought for sure he'd come back, he talked a lot about the future, he wrote and just about every Sunday he called us," said stepmother, Lilmah Wyatt.

Family and friends say this living memorial planted today, will act as a longtime reminder of Stephen, and the ideal he died protecting.

"Our freedoms don't come free, they come at a cost, and Stephen's life was one of those costs," said Parker.

The dogwood tree planted for Wyatt was donated by the Kilgore Wal-mart.

  Bob Hallmark reporting.