Saturday, February 03, 2007

Michael Taylor laid to rest

Of all the sacred scripture and solemn prayers offered at Maj. Michael V. Taylor’s funeral on Thursday, the words that perhaps resonated most among the hundreds of mourners were the soldier’s own.

“I love what I do,” Taylor wrote to his family and friends while at Fort Hood in Texas preparing for deployment to Iraq, a deployment for which he volunteered.

“I know I can make a difference, not in the war nor the politics of why soldiers are there, but I can make a difference in the 42 soldiers that I’m responsible for and those troops that we will carry every day,” the helicopter pilot explained in a letter that was printed inside his funeral program and tearfully referred to by his father-in-law.

Taylor, 40, of North Little Rock was the third Arkansas National Guardsman buried this week.

The three men were among 12 soldiers killed Jan. 20 in a Black Hawk helicopter crash in Iraq. Funerals were held earlier in the week for fellow guardsmen Sgt. Maj. William T. Warren, 48, of North Little Rock and Sgt. 1 st Class John “Gary” Brown, 43, of Little Rock.

Warren and Brown served with the Arkansas National Guard’s Company B, 185 th Aviation Regiment, 77 th Aviation Brigade. Taylor was its commander.

On Thursday, relatives and friends gathered at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in North Little Rock to honor Taylor.

They spoke of a man who married his first love, Wendy Taylor. They praised his quiet leadership, his calming presence.

“He didn’t just blow smoke at you; he just got the job done,” said Pete Marvin, Taylor’s father-in-law. He said his fatherly skepticism — Wendy was just 17 when she brought Taylor home to meet the folks — quickly melted. Taylor became a second son to him, he said.

The Rev. James P. West said Taylor “was the one who always kept everyone else calm, even in the midst of war.”

West told Taylor’s son, Justin, and daughter, Meredith, that their father “left here already a hero and returned as an inspiration.”

Though Taylor was prepared for the worst, even taking his wife to the Veterans Cemetery in North Little Rock to show her where he wanted to be buried if he was killed in action, West said, Taylor hoped for the best.

West said that officers had said that just before Taylor boarded the doomed helicopter, he spoke of how he would soon return home to “his soul mate.”

Brig. Gen. Larry Haltom, Arkansas’ deputy adjutant general, said that even in the often macho and cramped environs of military life, Taylor would end each call to his wife with an “I love you.”

Haltom also said Taylor loved to play a good prank — and joked that some were still classified — and how he listed his home phone under his dog’s name, Luke, to head off telemarketers.

Haltom’s comments came before he presented Taylor’s final commendations — A Bronze Star for meritorious service and the Arkansas Distinguished Service Medal — to Wendy Taylor.

Taylor understood the challenges of military service. His letter ended with an unfulfilled promise: “It cuts me in half, my dedication to my profession and my love of my family. But in just 365 days, 52 weeks, 24 paychecks, 12 months, 1 year, I’ll be whole again.”

From NWA

Related Link:
Michael V. Taylor killed in helicopter crash