Once again, the sad finger of military tragedy has touched a family in the Mid-Ohio Valley.
On Monday, it was learned a 21-year-old Marietta resident and 2010 Marietta High School graduate, Lance Cpl. Josh Taylor, was one of the U.S. Marines killed in a mortar shell explosion at Hawthorne Army Depot, a Nevada military base.
Taylor, a member of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., was taking part in an exercise before a deployment overseas – which would have been his third. Military investigators were uncertain what caused the 60mm mortar round to explode.
We at the newspaper realize there is nothing we can say to ease the pain his parents, Jennifer and Robert Collins, his three sisters and brother, and fiancee Abbey Malone, whom he was going to wed on May 11, are feeling.
We do, however, share in the pain of that loss. We do hope his family and friends can find some solace in the words of the people who knew him, such as those spoken by his grandfather, Lowell resident Larry Stephens. A grandfather usually has a special place in a grandchild’s life as Stephens had with Taylor. “Josh is probably one of the best kids … one of the politest kids, one of the nicest boys I have ever known,” Stephens told the newspaper.
That belief was echoed by several people who talked to the newspaper, including his friend Christian Gentry. Gentry also asked a question on everyone’s mind. Unfortunately it is a question that just cannot be answered: “Why would this happen to someone as great as Josh was?” he said. “He had given so much into the Marines and his family.”
Taylor becomes the third Washington County serviceman to die since the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan began 10 years ago. Like the deaths of Army Spc. Allen Nolan and Army 1st Lt. Chris Rutherford before him, his loss leaves a terrible hole not just with his family, but in the entire community.
“This is a just a tragedy,” Marietta High School Principal Bill Lee said. “A terrible, terrible loss.”
It is a terrible, terrible loss. We all yearn for a day when it will not be necessary for our young people to train for deployment to dangerous places. However, until that far off day arrives, we are so fortunate to have the Lance Cpl. Josh Taylors of the world – people who willingly volunteer to protect and defend their country and possibly pay the ultimate price for that protection.
Our sympathy goes out to the family of Lance Cpl. Josh Taylor and we long for the day when such deaths cease.