Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Citrus County Marine killed in Afghanistan

HOMOSASSA — Once a Marine, always a Marine.

That's what the family of Cpl. John Taylor came to understand in time.

From the moment he graduated from boot camp in 2007, they knew the Marines had became his second family, a support group for the life he chose to live.

To his comrades, Taylor was a fearless warrior who looked after them, his mother, Deb Taylor, recalled on Thursday. In their last conversation, she reminded him that she was sending a package of snacks, soft drinks, new socks, smokeless tobacco and other items that are tough to come by in the desolate Helmand province in Afghanistan where his unit is stationed.

"He told me to make sure I packed enough so that he could share with the guys in his unit. That was really important to him," Deb Taylor recalled of their Monday conversation.

The next morning, the 23-year-old was killed when an improvised explosive device blew up beneath his feet.

At the dining room table inside her Homosassa home Thursday, Deb Taylor, her husband, Mark, and 19-year-old son Chris worked to assemble photos for a Facebook memorial.

Through tear-filled eyes, Deb Taylor gazed at photos of the young man nicknamed "Butters" by his Lecanto High School football teammates because he had trouble handling the ball.

"He liked playing football," she said. "But deep down, I think he always knew that life had more important plans for him."

Drawn to the idea of joining the military, Taylor spent four years in Lecanto High's JROTC program, and earned honors in the Navy Sea Cadets program. Social studies teacher Brian Donovan described Taylor as someone who saw himself with a higher purpose in life.

"He was very patriotic," Donovan said. "He looked different than most of the kids. He was very neat and wore his hair high and tight in a military style cut. You could tell he was determined to live up to being a Marine."

After graduation in 2006, Taylor went directly into the Marines where he was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Deb Taylor said her son quickly latched onto the brotherhood of his close-knit unit. On an early visit home, she noticed he had a tattoo of the Marine Corps "Devil Dogs" symbol on his chest. Over time, Taylor added several more on his torso, including the names of fallen comrades.

Through his four deployments with a Marine combat unit in Iraq and Afghanistan, Taylor never complained of the conditions or the dangers. Deb Taylor said she got a call one night from her son telling her that he had coordinated communications for several combat units engaged in a firefight.

"I thought, 'Here is this 20-year-old kid who's found something special that's going to be with him for the rest of his life," she said. "That's how proud he was of being a Marine."

As was his request, John Taylor will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. His parents plan to have a memorial service for local friends and family at a later date.

Deb Taylor still plans to send the package to her son's unit. She thinks it will make a fitting memorial.

"He was always thinking of them," she said. "I know they'll never forget him."

Logan Neill can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1435.

Citrus County Marine killed in Afghanistan 02/24/11 [Last modified: Thursday, February 24, 2011 11:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Me too': Alyssa Milano urged assault victims to tweet in solidarity. The response was massive.

    Human Interest

    Actor Alyssa Milano took to Twitter on Sunday with an idea, suggested by a friend, she said.

    Within hours of Alyssa Milano’s tweet, tweets with the words “me too” began appearing. By 3 a.m. Monday, almost 200,000 metoo tweets were published by Twitter’s count.
  2. Tampa tax shelter schemer too fat for his prison term, attorney says


    TAMPA — A federal judge sentenced two Bay area men to prison terms last week for peddling an offshore tax shelter scheme that cost the IRS an estimated $10 million.

    Duane Crithfield and Stephen Donaldson Sr. were sentenced to prison after marketing a fraudulent offshore tax strategy known as a "Business Protection Plan" to medical practices, offering doctors and others coverage against unlikely events such as a kidnapping.

  3. Weinstein Co., overwhelmed by backlash, may be up for sale


    NEW YORK — The Weinstein Co., besieged by sexual harassment allegations against its namesake and co-founder, may be putting itself up for sale.

  4. Trial begins in 2014 death of 19-month-old Tampa girl


    TAMPA — Even before his trial officially began, Deandre Gilmore had planted his gaze on the floor of Judge Samantha Ward's courtroom Monday, taking a deep breath and shifting in his seat as a pool of 60 potential jurors learned of his charges.

  5. Rick Pitino officially fired by Louisville amid federal corruption probe


    In an expected move, the University of Louisville Athletic Association's Board of Directors on Monday voted unanimously to fire men's basketball coach Rick Pitino. The decision came 19 days after Louisville acknowledged that its men's basketball program was being investigated as part of a federal corruption probe and …

    In this Oct. 20, 2016, file photo, Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino reacts to a question during a press conference in Louisville, Ky. Louisville's Athletic Association on Monday officially fired Pitino, nearly three weeks after the school acknowledged that its men's basketball program is being investigated as part of a federal corruption probe. [AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File]