By Kathryn Passeretti
In the fall of 2018, readers were introduced to Marysville High School senior, Wyatt Grimes, in an article titled A Field of Dreams. Wyatt’s story was heartfelt and it seemed relevant to catch readers up on his life since then. But first, a short recap of his story.
It had been Wyatt’s dream to give a gift that couldn’t be bought. Over the course of three seasons, Wyatt cultivated two acres on his family’s land and achieved his dream. He grew a field of pumpkins for elementary students with learning challenges. Wyatt respected the hard work they put into learning. On the second acre, Wyatt grew a field of sunflowers for his girlfriend. He wanted her to have a special background for her senior pictures. The depth and beauty of the sunflowers were magical and the gift continued to grow. It led to a kind of pilgrimage of graduating students and community coming out to experience it and have their own pictures taken there.
Since then, Wyatt was accepted into the mechanical engineering program at Michigan Technological University. In the spring of 2019, Wyatt graduated three weeks earlier than his fellow students and reported to boot camp in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri to begin training for the Army National Guard. It had been a dream of Wyatt’s to serve his country and in doing so, he was able to make his education affordable through the GI Bill.
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When asked about boot camp, Wyatt described it as waking up at 4:30 am, reporting for physical training, getting yelled at, practicing simulation drills, learning tactical procedures, cleaning weapons, cleaning barracks and going to bed at 9 pm. The meals, Wyatt joked, were pretty good if you didn’t have taste buds.
Wyatt completed four weeks of AIT (Advanced Individual Training) following boot camp. In the military you have a specific job or MOS (Military Occupation Code). Wyatt’s job is combat engineering. Wyatt learned in the classroom and on a demolition field about explosives and demolition. For example, Wyatt was taught how to make and use explosives in order to blow down doors and clear out rooms. He also learned to use mine detectors to find IEDs (improvised explosive devices) buried on roads.
As a member of the Army National Guard, Wyatt is committed to serving six years. He will train one weekend a month throughout his college time and two weeks over summer vacation to maintain his skill sets. Except for this summer, Wyatt’s unit will go overseas to train with the Latvian military. The Army National Guard is deployed every few years. There is a chance that Wyatt could be deployed.
In college, Wyatt is enrolled in the ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps). He takes university-based courses on Military Science and completes two hours of physical training on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Wyatt will remain in the ROTC until he graduates with a Mechanical Engineering Degree from MTU, at which time, he will commission as an Officer in the United States Army.
Upon writing this article, I am struck by the juxtaposition of “fields,” sunflowers and demolition, and the weight of what Wyatt is giving of himself. I ask that we all continue to love, pray for and respect our servicemen and women who make the greatest sacrifice for our freedom.
Wyatt prepared two fields for sunflowers and pumpkins before graduating from High School and leaving for boot camp. His parents took over for him, adding a field of sunflowers to overlap and extend the blooming season. This year saw an even greater pilgrimage to their fields. Members of the graduating class of 2020 came to have their senior pictures taken in the fields. According to Wyatt’s parents, they had over fifty photoshoots including family, maternity and countless selfies. The pumpkins were gifted to NuNu’s Child Daycare and Northern High School’s Special Education class. The addition of red sunflowers will be added to the fields next year.
Kathryn Passeretti earned her Bachelor’s degree from Indiana University. She came to the Blue Water area from the Chicagoland area nearly two decades ago and loves it here! Kathryn works with children throughout the Port Huron school district as a substitute teacher and enjoys volunteer work. She values the people here – of all ages, who continue to touch her life. And prizes the lakes and rivers available to all of us at our fingertips.