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Wilkes County Veterans History Project: Ricky Wyatt

1986 - Boot Camp with Alpha 6.1

June 13, 2023 - Army Birthday Party

The Steel de Fleury Medal

During the first deployment our group was called Charlie Company, 1st Battalion 120th Infantry

 a.k.a. 'The Mad Dawgs'

Ricky and Mr Chewy, adopted as a 

Special Forces dog 

Abram Battle Tank

German vehicle in Afghanistan - Ricky and Lt. Robinson pictured (in middle)

with fellow German soldiers.

Ricky in the gunner seat of a Chinook Helicopter.

Waste detail (burning the sh*t)



The desert chow hall . . . really nowhere to sit. 

It was an eat-and-run situation

Preparing to go out on a mission.

Ricky in the back of a Bradley (fighting vehicle) calling in to the battalion before leaving for a mission.

One of the many camel spiders that were encountered.

Scorpion under Ricky's boot.

One of the many lizards that infiltrated the area.

Here an Iraqi soldier, that Ricky trained, catches a lizard.

Ricky's view, while holding watch, with a 240 machine gun . .

a road coming out of Baghdad.

Iraqi soldier, that trained with Ricky,

sitting in a shaded area

made from 2x4s and camo nets.

Iraqi children from one of the villages pose with Ricky (on left) and a fellow soldier.

Ricky, on a Donkey.

Recommendation for the Steel de Fleury Medal

Army Staff Sergeant Ricky Wyatt has served the United States Army Engineer Regiment with honor and integrity for ten years. His contributions during three deployments and multiple annual training events are immeasurable. His accomplishments, achieved through his work ethic and “can do” attitude, exemplify the Engineer motto “Essayons”.  In 2003, SSG Ricky Wyatt was assigned to A Company, 505th Engineer Battalion as a heavy equipment operator. While there, he was one of twenty Soldiers chosen to be on the honorary security detail for President Bush during the 100th anniversary of the flight at Kitty Hawk, NC. In 2003, he volunteered to deploy with the 1/120th Infantry Company in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. There he demonstrated his ability to adapt and operate outside his MOS as an infantry Soldier. During his deployment with the 120th Infantry Company, he took part in many presence patrol missions as well as security missions all over Iraq. 

In 2005, SSG Ricky Wyatt was assigned to A Company, 505th Engineer Battalion and deployed with them in February of 2005 to Iraq for his second tour. He assisted in many construction missions and convoy missions throughout Iraq. He was instrumental in the construction of an Iraqi army shooting range at FOB Irbil. Due to SSG Wyatt’s skill on dozers and scrapers, the range was completed two weeks ahead of schedule. Also at FOB Irbil, he assisted in building twenty-foot-tall berms in support of the force protection mission, these berms ensured the safety and security of the FOB. After the work was complete at FOB Irbil, he moved on to FOB Sykes where he assisted in road construction and road repair in and around the FOB. SSG Wyatt’s method of spreading gravel with a 621 scraper was noticed by his leadership and was videotaped, these videos are still used today at the 139th Regimental Training Institute at Ft Bragg as a training aid. After leaving FOB Sykes, he moved to the Syrian border on a force protection mission, where he assisted in building berms on the border. SSG Wyatt also ran many convoy missions while in Iraq, which were hit with multiple IED’s and small arms fire. SSG Wyatt’s experience from previous deployments made him a valuable part of the security detail. 

While assigned to the 875th Engineer Company in 2008, SSG Wyatt assisted with a road construction project in Arizona. The project was in support of the U.S. Border patrol operations along the border. The terrain was rough and extremely steep, which made SSG Wyatt’s unmatched skill and knowledge of dozer operations an essential part of the mission. The end result was 10 kilometers of safer roads for the U.S. Border Patrol to operate on.

In 2010, SSG Wyatt went to California to assist in a road building mission. He helped redesign and construct a road on the Lojola Native American Reservation. This road allowed easier access to water towers which supplied the reservation with water. SSG Wyatt’s knowledge and experience helped him to recognize and correct problems with the design, therefore saving time and materials on the project.

In 2011, SSG Wyatt went to El Salvador to take part in the “Beyond the Horizon” mission. While in El Salvador, he assisted with the earthwork in preparation for the construction of schools. His knowledge, leadership abilities and ability to interact with the local populace was key in preparing the site for construction.

In 2012, SSG Wyatt deployed a third time in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. While in Kuwait and Afghanistan, SSG Wyatt’s leadership and knowledge were key in the completion of many projects. His projects included building a 26,000 square foot ammunition pad, over 26 kilometers of road repair and grading operations. His efforts have helped pave the way for the retrograde operations scheduled for 2014.

SSG Wyatt is an outstanding engineer and his selfless service, honor and duty set the standard for all Engineer Soldiers. His contributions as an engineer still generate benefits around the world and he is truly deserving of this honor.

(recommendation by Robert M. Robinson, 1st LT, EN, Platoon Leader - January 2013)

Ricky's Story in His Own Words

I was born August 21, 1964, in Wilkes County to Willie Burton and Irene Haynes Wyatt. I am the youngest of four kids. When I was growing up, by the time I was eight years old, I wanted to be in the Army. George S. Patton was the one that I wanted to be like. He is the one that got me hooked on being in the Army. But I waited till I was 21 to join the first time. I went to Fort Benning, GA, for Basic and AIT… 14 weeks of it. I was in A-G-1.  Fort Benning is home of the Infantry. I was discharged in 1991.

When 9/11 happened, I signed back up. This time I was with the 505th Combat Engineers in North Wilkesboro, NC. In 2003 I was one of 20 to be chosen to be on George W. Bush’s security detail at Kitty Hawk for the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothers first flight. In that same year they asked for volunteers to go to Iraq. I told them I would go if I could go with the Infantry. Only me and five more volunteered, so my first tour was with the 1-120th Infantry. We were under the 1 Infantry division, The Big Red One.

When I went to Basic Training, I flew from Charlotte to Fort Benning. We arrived at 4:00 am. When we stepped off the bus, all of us were just standing around talking, and then we saw the Drill Sergeants coming out the doors. They were yelling at us, and we thought the world had ended. We started out with 140 in our company. The first day we were there we had one to quit; he sat down and cried like a baby.  I was training on the 50-calibre machine gun, the LAW, the Tow Hand grenades, 203 grenade launchers, hand-to-hand combat, the M16, and the Claymore mines. We were trained more for jungle warfare. By the time the fourteen weeks of Basic and Advanced Individual Training (AIT) were over, there were only 96 of us at graduation; we were The Killer Hawgs.

My Drill Sergeants were D.S. Tillian and D.S. Harrison. They were tough on us, but they trained us well. I guess if they are any good parts of Basic, it was the songs that we sang while we were running and marching. Some of them were a little dirty, but they made the runs go by a little faster, or so it seemed.

First Deployment

I was sent to Fort Bragg for two weeks training on urban tactics and IEDs. When I got in country, I was sent to CI-120 Infantry as a dismount. I was assigned to First Platoon. We were MEC Infantry. We rode in the Bradley. The Bradley is a very good fighting vehicle. It is armed with 30-mm and a 240 MG; it is a track vehicle.

While in Iraq we did many raids, present patrols, and set up many checkpoints and Hastie checkpoints. A Hastie checkpoint is when you just stop in the road and set one up. I remember on one of the Hastie checkpoints, we had stopped two busloads of Iraqis. We got all the males off the busses. We weren’t allowed to get the females off, so we left them on the busses. When we got all the males off the busses, they started to go around us. There were only four of us patting down. While I was patting one down, I got a bad feeling that there was something going on behind me. So, when I turned around, there was one of the Iraqis had a pistol. When I saw it, I grabbed it and took it away from him.

While in Iraq we were moved around a lot. We were in five or six different Forward Operating Bases (FOB) and towns. At some FOBs, the only place we had to shower was shower buckets that were hanging from ropes. Our bathrooms were built out of plywood with 55-gallon drums that were cut into that we had to slide out every day and burn our waste. Our entertainment was playing cards and catching camel spiders and scorpions and putting them together and letting them fight. The camel spiders would win.

Second Deployment

I deployed to Iraq in 2005-06 with the 101st Airborne Division Air Assault as a soldier in the 505th Engineer Combat Battalion H (heavy).  We completed 380 missions, drove 1964 convoys, detonated 57 IEDs, found 15 IEDs, and detained 20 Iraqis.

On my 2nd Deployment I was with the 505th Combat Engineers, Heavy. We were in Iraq from 2005-2006. We were under the 101st Airborne Division: Air Assault. We were tasked out all over Iraq. We did many missions while we were there. While there we were hit with IEDs and small arms fire and rockets and mortars. I was one of six picked to go to the Syrian border to help secure it. While there in Iraq I was sent many places, and I also moved a lot of heavy equipment for the 505th and was involved in IED attacks and small arms fire. 

On my 3rd and last tour, 2012-2013

I was sent to Afghanistan with the 875th Combat Engineers. We were sent up north in Afghanistan where we did a lot of engineering projects in the wintertime. It was cold and snowing a lot. 

I retired out of the army on Dec. 19th, 2019.  Only seventeen percent of soldiers who join the Army persevere until retirement. Once a soldier, always a soldier... A soldier for life.

I would like to thank my family, extended family, and friends for all their support and prayers while I was in service, especially my siblings, Judy, Kenneth, and my late brother Ronnie. Also, a special thank you to my mom Irene, my wife Anita, and most of all I thank God.


CIB - Combat Infantry Badge

ARCOM - Army Commendation

Army Achievement 

Army Good Conduct

Army National Guard Components Achievement

Iraq Campaign

Afghanistan Campaign

National Defense

North Carolina Achievement Medal

North & South Carolina State Active Duty

Global War on Terrorism

Sharpshooters Badge

Drivers Badge

Steel de Fleury Medal

Army NCO Professional Development

NATO ISAF (International Security Assistance Force)