COLUMBUS, Ohio - Marine Lance Cpl. Josh Taylor, who was killed this week in a training exercise in Nevada, fulfilled a nearly lifelong dream when he joined the military right after graduating from a southeastern Ohio high school in 2010, his grandfather said Wednesday.
Taylor's grandfather, Larry Stephens, confirmed that the 21-year-old Marine from Marietta was one of seven killed when a mortar exploded during a mountain warfare training exercise in Nevada Monday.
Stephens said his grandson had talked about being a Marine since he was about 5, watching the History Channel and studying the military. After joining, he worked with mortars and served tours in Afghanistan and Kuwait, and was preparing for another tour in Afghanistan.
"Josh was one of the nicest young men I've ever known," Stephens told The Associated Press. "He was polite, respectful to everybody, he'd do anything for anybody. He was just a good kid."
Stephens said Taylor was engaged to be married, with a wedding planned for May.
Taylor's family members, including his parents who live in Marietta, were notified of the Marine's death Tuesday morning. He is also survived by three sisters and a brother, his grandfather said.
His fiancee's father called Taylor "an exceptional individual."
"You don't meet many young men like him today," Keith Malone told The Marietta Times. "He was respectful to everyone, very humble, just happy, happy all the time.
"I have never seen a young man more respectful to his mother," he said. "He loved his family, and he loved his country."
Marietta High School Principal Bill Lee recalled Taylor proudly wearing his dress uniform when visiting the school while on leave. He called the Marine's death "just a terrible, terrible loss."
"Josh was an outstanding young man, and I'm very saddened by his passing," Lee told the Times.
The explosion Monday night at the sprawling facility during an exercise involved the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force from Camp Lejeune, N.C. At least eight men were injured, officials said.