Peace Corps Press Release:
Peace Corps Mourns the Loss of Trainee Wyatt Ammon
WASHINGTON, D.C., November 18, 2005 Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez announced today with deep sadness the death of Wyatt Ammon, a 24-year-old Peace Corps trainee who was scheduled to be sworn-in as a volunteer today in Zambia. Wyatt died as a result of injuries sustained in a fall.
“Though Wyatt just completed his training and had not had the opportunity to begin his work as a volunteer, it is clear that he was a leader who represented the ideals of the Peace Corps. We greatly mourn his loss to the Peace Corps family,” said Director Vasquez.
Wyatt began his Peace Corps training on September 6 and was quickly adapting to the Zambian language and culture. A leader among his training class, Wyatt was chosen by his peers to deliver an appreciation speech to a delegation of Zambian officials in the local language of Lunda during the upcoming swearing-in ceremony.
Wyatt was a dedicated trainee who was very motivated to expand his knowledge and understanding of other cultures. In his aspiration statement Wyatt wrote, “I don’t want to work for money or prestige, I want to work for change and satisfaction.”
A Dell Rapids, S.D., resident, Wyatt was a 2004 graduate of Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn. An excellent student, he spent one semester at Universiteit van Amsterdam in a study abroad program at the International School for the Humanities and Social Sciences.
Wyatt is survived by his parents Greg and Jeannie, and his sisters: Ginger, Kyla and Allison.
The Peace Corps’ staff is deeply saddened by Wyatt’s death. Director Vasquez said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Ammon family, especially as we enter into the holiday season.”
Wyatt’s family maintains a Facebook page, In Memory of Wyatt Dean Ammon, as well as a scholarship.
Wyatt Ammon was always hard to get a handle on. Little snippets of his life describe him best. How he loved making art, talking with people, eating candy, and thrift store shopping. How he was a talented athlete and student.
How he craved adventure and new experiences. How he could drive a person bananas with his obliviousness and then touch them with his intense thoughtfulness. How he absolutely loved life and pushed every day to make living the most fun that he could. You can think of these things and imagine him, but you can’t know what a force of life he was.
A professor of Wyatt’s once said that he was a true sociologist. He was acutely interested in what made everyone around him tick, and you could sense that right upon meeting him. He could get down to what a person was all about very quickly. He helped people discover what was really important to them, and then encouraged them to realize that dream.
Wyatt took his own advice. He studied what he wanted — though his dad teased him that a dime and a sociology degree would get him a cup of coffee — traveled far and wide, and made friends wherever he went. His compassion and deeply-felt connection to humanity, along with a disdain for the use of violence for any reason, led him to join the U.S. Peace Corps in Zambia, Africa in August 2005. In letters home, he described how happy and at home he felt there. He was excited to be doing what felt so right to his soul.
Wyatt Ammon — a 2000 graduate of Dell Rapids High School — died November 18, 2005 in Zambia while serving in the Peace Corps. His path to that place was one of the ways he followed his dreams, and his family and friends want to honor his memory by helping others get closer to their dreams — however unpaved the path might be.
This award benefits graduating seniors from Dell Rapids public or private high schools. Eligible applicants must plan to attend an accredited college, or vocational or technical school, and demonstrate originality and interest in seeking personal challenges. Applicants may also be evaluated according to special circumstances, motivation to pursue goals, and the inspiration for those goals. To learn more and/or donate to this fund, visit the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation.