A Marine from Two Harbors, Minn., who was killed last week in Afghanistan, is being remembered as a warm and dedicated soldier and friend.
Staff Sgt. Aaron J. Taylor, 27, was killed Friday by a homemade bomb while on foot patrol in Helmand province, said his father, Clifford Taylor, of rural Two Harbors.
"Everybody that knew him just loved him," said Taylor's father, Clifford. "He just connected with everybody. I think if the Taliban met him, they'd have liked him, too."
Clifford Taylor said the Marine Corps told him Aaron had been checking out a bridge when he apparently stepped on a hidden explosive.
Taylor had been in the country about six weeks, and had done a six-month tour of duty in Iraq earlier. Taylor had joined a veteran unit as an ordnance disposal specialist.
"We were really worried about him," Clifford Taylor said in an interview on Monday night. He said he'd last talked to his son about a week ago.
"He said he was going to be fine, that this unit he joined was really good, that they really knew how to watch out for themselves."
Aaron Taylor had been in the Marines since shortly after graduating from Greenway High School in Coleraine in 2000. After a year of studying for a law enforcement degree in Hibbing, Taylor joined the Marines.
"When he joined up, I told him it was kind of dangerous," his father recalled. "And he said 'No, Dad, I want to be the best.'"
The elder Taylor said his son served in a counterterrorism unit in Europe, and a unit that recovered the remains of missing airmen in Vietnam. He served several years in Okinawa, as well.
Aaron Taylor was based at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and recently bought a house in Temecula, Calif., near the base, his father said.
Taylor's body was flown to Dover Air Force base in Delaware on Monday. He is survived by his father and stepmother, Cindy, as well as a brother Kyle. Funeral arrangements are pending.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)