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Columbia Missourian

FROM READERS: Taekwondo instructor remembers Sterling Wyatt

By Jeff Hockman/Missourian Reader
July 19, 2012 | 12:41 p.m. CDT

Jeff Hockman of Hockman's Martial Arts posted this tribute on the school's Facebook page and gave the Missourian permission to reprint it.

Mr. Wyatt was a previous Taekwondo student of mine. He started his training at my martial arts school in 2004 at the age of 14. He later entered our leadership program in 2005 and earned his black belt in 2008.


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Sterling gave his life for our country last week while serving in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

I remember Sterling as a somewhat quiet kid. When he spoke, it was with a thoughtful, respectful purpose. He was very dedicated to his training and showed a passion for learning new things. He was quite talented and was always willing to share his knowledge with others.

Initially, I was surprised to find out he had joined the Army, but after some thought, it made perfect sense. The word martial stems from the word military. Sterling learned about and displayed courtesy, respect, self-control and discipline in our martial arts classes. He took his passion for being a martial artist to a new level by using those same life skills to serve his country.

Although I know he had many options in life, his loyalty to country came first. With that, he brought to himself one of the highest life skills we teach: that of honor! For that, our country is forever indebted to his service.

Sterling’s father contacted me and requested I speak at his son’s funeral this Saturday. I am finding this to be one of the more humbling tasks I have ever been asked to do. I am truly honored to have the opportunity to remember Sterling and share a snapshot of his life with others. May our thoughts and prayers be with his family and friends at this difficult time.

If you have memories of Sterling Wyatt that you'd be willing to share, please comment below or email

This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising editor is Joy Mayer.