CAMP AL QA’IM, Iraq -- Just six days after his promotion to lance corporal, a 20-year-old Marine lost his life while deployed to Iraq’s western Al Anbar province.
Marines and sailors of 1st Battalion, 7th Regiment mourned the loss of Lance Cpl. Bryan N. Taylor April 9, 2006, during a memorial service at the Marines’ base here.
Taylor, a 20-year-old combat engineer from Milford, Ohio, was killed April 6 just north of the Euphrates River, at one of the battalion’s outposts in the area of operations where Marines and Iraqi forces share security posts.
The details surrounding Taylor’s death are currently being investigated after an Iraqi soldier allegedly shot and killed the young engineer.
Gen. Michael W. Hagee, commandant of the Marine Corps, who visited the battalion recently, urged Marines to not let the actions of one Iraqi deter them from performing their duties of helping the Iraqis progress towards self-stability.
“Mourn the loss of that Marine, but don’t forget that we have a job to do here. Stay strong,” said the 38-year Marine Corps veteran during a “town-hall”- style meeting with Marines and sailors.
Taylor was part of the Camp Lejeune, N.C.-based 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, which supports the southern California-based 7th Marine Regiment in Iraq’s western Al Anbar Province. Combat engineers perform a variety of duties in Iraq, from searching for hidden weapons caches and clearing areas laden with improvised explosive devices to fortifying structures and beefing up security measures at the Marines’ various forward operating bases.
Taylor’s passing marks the battalion’s first death since taking control of security operations in the region more than a month ago.
This was the young Marine’s first deployment.
“Scarecrow,” as his fellow Marines affectionately called him, earned the moniker because he had bad knees and would wobble around like a scarecrow following physical training sessions back at Twentynine Palms, Calif., where 1st Bn., 7th Marine Regiment is based.
Several of Taylor’s closest peers choked back tears while they took turns sharing their experiences and memories of Taylor with the hundreds of servicemembers who attended the service.
“He would always offer anything he had to anybody,” said Lance Cpl. Jamie R. Hughes, 20, from Spruce Pine, N.C., and fellow platoon member. “That’s just the way he was, he was always looking out for everyone else.”
That mentality was important in Taylor’s line of work, which could be dangerous at times, according to his unit’s noncommissioned officers.
The humvees Taylor maneuvered throughout the rural towns of western Iraq reminded one Marine of another of Taylor’s favorite activities back in the States – “mudding” in four-wheel-drive vehicles.
“On weekends, we would get into trucks and get in the mud, trying not to get stuck” said Cpl. Joshua D. Plass, a 22-year-old who serves in Taylor’s platoon.
“It was our idea of fun,” said Plass, from Fayetteville, W.Va.
Fun times were always at the top of Taylor’s list according to Hughes, who said he “spent nearly every second of every day since Marine Corps Combat Training” with the twenty-year-old.
The two were “inseparable,” said Hughes.
Before his death, Taylor had spoken about his plans for life after the Corps with his indivisible friend.
“He had told me that he wanted to go to college to become a teacher when we got back,” said Hughes. “I don’t know if he ever told anybody that.”
Email Cpl. Rosas at firstname.lastname@example.org