In Memory Of:
SFC Wyatt A. Goldsmith
A 3/1 SFG(A) ODA-1314
Helmand Providence, Afghanistan
15 July 2011
“Looking for the G’s…?, where’s the G’s” I casually asked as I lined up outside the Joint Special Operations Medical Training Center. “Here,” a polite voice spoke up. I locked eyes and made my way to a familiar face, someone whom I’ve seen throughout my travels in the Q thus far. “G.A.?” I said designating my first two letters of my last name. “G.O., you’re in front of me.” “Cool, thanks man..Derek,” and I extended my hand. That was the first of many interactions I would have with my soon-to-be very good friend, Wyatt Goldsmith.
Wyatt and I ended up sitting, standing, studying, and being beaten together in most of our various evolutions in our quest for our Green Berets during Special Forces Qualification. We both were picked for the 18 Delta, or Special Forces Medical Sergeants, course. He was from Colville Washington and had a background in mountain rescue and first aid as a ski patrol guru on the slopes of Eastern Washington. And I had an airborne infantry medic background since my indoctrination into the U.S. Army back in 1995.
“Goldy”, as we liked to call him, was an “x-ray program” recruit who survived that meat grinder of a selection process and still came out on the back end with a smile on his face. It was no surprise that trauma medicine and the desire to help came naturally for him. He was always giving; he would give his friends anything they needed. He was above and beyond when it came to that. As fellow Irishmen in the chase for the “Long Tab,” we became close, especially with our love of a good pint of the “black stuff” with copious amounts of Jameson at hand, as needed of course. Wyatt and I separated after graduation, he went West to 1st Group, I went South to 5th Group.
The war was raging and we lost some connection, other than random emails or SIGACT casualty reporting of him getting wounded in Afghanistan, which resulted in he getting his first purple heart. I transferred to Fort Lewis, Washington to be closer to my children and prep for my eventual transition into retirement when I ran into Wyatt again, and not a day felt missed in our friendship.
I won’t discuss how 1st Group is set up or my personal problems with this unit, but after spending a couple months there I knew it wasn’t my cup of tea. Wyatt and I had many talks over pints at Doyle’s about this subject. “You gotta get on a better team,” he would say, or “Have you talked to the HALO team sergeant yet?” He was always looking for positives for me. I never saw them.
We ended up as senior medics for the battalion and another Afghanistan trip was already in full pre-operational preparation swing. “I’m out dude,” I told him. “Fuck this place, and fuck the fucking command, bro. I’m fucking done!” He just looked at me, never judged and said, “I’m gonna do one more, dude.” He crashed at my place the night before he left because all his stuff was in storage. He celebrated life and we all drank to a fast and safe return stateside. The night was full of bravado and trash talking. The only thing I heard that morning was my front door closing.
Wyatt was killed 15 July 2011 in Helmand Providence, Afghanistan. I found out via text message. I pulled over on a busy section of I-5 and wept. I miss him, and as I type this, tears are beginning to come as easy as they appeared that day. For a couple years I “what if-ed” his death, hell I still do. I felt like I failed my brother by not going with him, by quitting.
I felt like I killed him.
I went to his funeral and I cornered the investigating officer. I approached him like an assaulter would, aggressive. “I want to know how he died,” I said. I could tell by the way he was looking at me, with those “here comes the hurt, dude” eyes. I knew it wasn’t going to be pleasant. And he told me. Wyatt died saving another. Just like he was trained, just like he was.
I miss you Wyatt. The World is worse off without you, and I will endeavor to share your memory with as many as I possibly can. Special Operations forces CANNOT be mass-produced.
Wyatt is the epitome of American Warrior and this very ethos that we hold dear.
De Oppresso Liber
18D, U.S. Army Special Forces
5th SFG(A) “The Legion”