AKRON, Ohio - Twenty-five-year-old Sgt. 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 Sgt. 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."
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