On April 18, 2013, our grandson, Marine Lance Corp. Joshua Taylor, along with six other Marines, lost their lives in an explosion at Hawthorn Army Depot in Nevada, during a training exercise. It took almost two agonizing weeks to get Josh home and laid to rest. We mourn the loss of our grandson and our hearts go out to the other families.
During our wait, we as a family gathered daily trying to accept and understand why this had to happen. The support we received from the Marines and our community was outstanding. As we watched our grandson being unloaded from a commercial airplane at the Columbus Airport, I noticed one of the pilots standing alongside several airport employees, hat in hands. It touched my heart to see them showing respect for our fallen Marine. Leaving the airport we were escorted past Airport Fire Department personnel standing at attention, and just past the gate, there were people standing at attention outside of their vehicles. We were then escorted from Columbus, by several law enforcement agencies and the Patriot Guard. The law enforcement agencies stayed with us, dropping off sporadically until the last one turned off halfway between Zanesville and Cambridge. Several of the Patriot Guard continued with us to Marietta. We were met by the Noble County Sheriff's Office and Washington County Sheriff's Office at Caldwell, along with a large contingency of Patriot Guard members. The Ohio State Highway Patrol and Marietta City Police Department also assisted with the escort. Along the way we saw people standing on hillsides and cross-overs holding flags and signs, and even people stopping northbound on the interstate standing outside their vehicles with their hands over their hearts or saluting as we passed.
The people lining State Route 7 in Marietta showing their respect for this young man who lost his life serving his country was phenomenal. We could hardly see through the tears caused by such a show of support. We want to thank everyone who came out to honor Josh.
We also want to thank the community, businesses, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Marietta Police Department, The City of Marietta, Mayor Matthews, Board member Greg Gault, Superintendant Harry Fleming, Troy Lee, and George Goodman of Marietta City Schools, several of the local motels, the VFW, American Legion, the Moose Lodge and their members, Warrens Plaza IGA, American Flags and Poles for all of the flags, Discount Signs and Awnings for the huge banners, and so many of our friends and family who supplied food. Your kindness and thoughtfulness was a tremendous comfort to all of us.
Thanks to Sheriff Larry Mincks and the Washington County Sheriff's Office personnel for helping and supplying the escorts. It meant a lot that you were there for us.
Thanks to Tom Kunz and Vincent Jett from the City of Marietta for their efforts in getting Josh laid to rest in Mound Cemetery. Josh loved history and allowing his final resting place to be in such a historical site was fantastic.
We want to thank the Patriot Guard for showing their respect in so many ways.
I want to especially thank Sonja Lee, Karla Cale, Troy Lee, and Tracy Saffel, and all of the other volunteers, for their efforts in acquiring, preparing and serving the meal for the reception afterwards. They took an overwhelming job from my shoulders. Thank you so much to the members of the Moose and the Moose Lodge for their kindness generosity.
We also wish to thank the Marine Mom's, a local group of marine mothers who provided food to our families for two weeks, and for arranging for hotels, gas cards, and food cards for the Marines who attended Joshua's funeral. They were a great comfort to us all.
My entire family wishes to thank everyone for their outstanding and generous support. We will always remember your kindness.
Larry and Tammy Stephens