A community united

On March 18, 2013, our family experienced the worst day of our lives. My husband and I lost a son and our two girls lost their brother, Marine Lance Corporal Joshua Taylor. Joshua was one of seven Marines who lost their lives in an explosion at Hawthorn Army Depot in Nevada, during a training exercise.

From the moment Joshua’s tragic death was made public, the outpouring of love and support from our community and the Marine Corp has been incredible.

The Marine Moms from RSS Parkersburg were one of the first groups to spring into action. They visited us to offer their condolences, arranged for meals to be brought to us, and started the process of welcoming the fellow service members, mostly from Josh’s 1/9 Infantry Marine Battalion. They did so by enlisting the help of the local hotels who offered free rooms, coordinating with the VFW to help feed the Marines during their stay, and finding sponsors who offered gas and food cards to them as well.

From his arrival at the Columbus International Airport Joshua was given a hero’s welcome. The respect he was given during the dignified transfer by the Marine Corp, the pilots and other airport staff was wonderful. Our escort from Columbus included several law enforcement agencies from the Columbus area, Washington County and Noble County Sheriff’s offices, Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Marietta City Police Department.

When we reached the Caldwell exit we were joined by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and over 100 additional Patriot Riders. As we got closer and closer to Marietta, we were in awe of what we witnessed. Cars were pulled over on I-77 north and people saluted us as we passed. People waived flags and lowered banners from the overpasses as we continued on. When we reached Marietta our family was overwhelmed with an outpouring of love and support shown by our community. People lined both sides of Route 7, waving flags, saluting, waving, and shedding tears as they welcomed their fallen hero home.

We want to extend a personal thank you to Sheriff Larry Minks and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office personnel, your help in providing the escorts for Joshua and our family throughout this process meant so much to us. We also want to say a special thank you to Mayor Matthews, Tom Kunz and Vincent Jett from the City of Marietta for making it possible for Joshua to be laid to rest in Mound Cemetery. Joshua had a great love for war history and no place could be more fitting for him.

We also extend our appreciation to the Marietta City School system for allowing us to hold Joshua’s funeral service in the high school’s auditorium. Many thanks go out to the American Legion, the Moose Lodge and their members, Warrens Plaza IGA, American Flags and Poles for all of the flags, and Discount Signs and Awnings for the banners.

Thank you to Sonia Lee, Karla Cale, and Tracy Saffel, and all of the other volunteers, for preparing and serving the meal for the reception after the funeral. A special thanks to Troy Lee who always made himself available at the school when the funeral preparations were being made.

Our family would also like to extend our sincere appreciation to Captain Steven Dodson and Gunnery Sergeant Justin Ice of the United States Marine Corps for their assistance and support throughout this difficult process.

Joshua left us at the very young age of 21. He had a whole life ahead of him which was to continue with his wedding to Abbey Malone in May of this year. She, her family, and ours have many days of grieving still ahead, but what we witnessed over the past two weeks has strengthened our faith in our community.

It would not be possible to list everyone by name that has touched our lives over the past few weeks so please know every single person who sent a card, stopped by our home, sent flowers, or said prayers has our unending gratitude.

Jennifer and Robert Collins

Rebekah and Gabrielle Taylor