(Photo by The Enquirer/Glenn Hartong)
Becky H. wanted to make sure that you all know about Taylor Prazyniski who was born on Veteran's Day on an Air Force Base. He always wanted to join the military and chose the Marines. He died fighting terrorists in western Iraq along the Syrian border.
...The 20-year-old Prazynski, who joined the Marines shortly after his 2003 high school graduation, was destined at a young age to be a soldier, according to a statement released by his father, John Prazynski. His son was born on Veterans Day at an Air Force base. As a youngster, Prazynski's favorite hangout was an Army surplus store where there still hangs a photo of the 6-year-old in military camouflage jumpsuit and beret.
Prazynski's body was escorted down a closed lane of Ohio 4 Tuesday afternoon.
The escort included a Marine Corps honor guard, local and county police and firefighters. A riderless horse - a Marine tradition for fallen heroes - was walked behind the hearse as hundreds stood silently along the side of the road, many holding American flags, some saluting while others wiped away tears.
The procession slowly made its way down this city's busiest road to his alma mater for a public visitation. His flag-draped coffin was placed at the high school's center court on the same floor where the athletic and well-liked Prazynski had wrestled for Fairfield's varsity.
"Taylor always said he was where he was supposed to be (and) doing what he was supposed to be doing," said his father, who added that in the last months of his son's young life he had spoken in phone calls from Iraq about wanting to become a special-education teacher.
As a high school senior, Prazynski volunteered to work with special-needs students, and Gary Staggs - an aide for the school's multiple-disabilities class and Prazynski family spokesman - described the then-teenager as a budding teacher who inspired students.
Staggs pointed to Fairfield graduate Josh Dixon among the first who lined up to pay respects to the fallen Marine. Dixon used a walker to enter the gym and Staggs said it was Prazynski's hard work in 2003 that helped Dixon abandon his wheelchair...
Below is another photo from the Cincinnati Enquirer from Taylor's procession:
(Photo by The Enquirer/Glenn Hartong)
There were hundreds on the procession route, but there were others that volunteered to help bring Taylor home. Mark Daniels, blogger of Better Living, reports:
My son-in-law reported that Delta employees volunteered for the duty of helping take the casket from the plane to an awaiting hearse. Family members and an honor guard stood by. "There were these burly baggage handlers with tears rolling down their faces," he told me. "It was all so sad to see."
Supporting the troops is not over for Taylor's father, John. From Jay Price of the newsobserver:
...John Prazynski had promised Taylor that he would be waiting at Camp Lejeune when Taylor's unit came home. "I still plan to be there," he said. "I promised my boy I'd be there, and I will."...
I'll close with a part of an email I received from a Colonel on the senior staff of the 2nd Marine Division about the recent fight and the loss of their Marines:
...We can never replace a fellow Marine or best friend but I can attest that he died doing what we all hope to be doing as Marines, they were advancing, leading, and setting the example -- they were being MARINES! It may not matter in the grand scheme of things to anyone but us, but we are singularly proud that we have and know Marines that fought and died like these. We remember and memorialize them and keep them alive every single time we put on this uniform -- we are just honored to wear the same eagle, globe, and anchor as these warrior/heroes. We don't make policy, we don't decide on the fight, but we do fight and win. And when we win, it is because every one of these Marines fight with us in sprit -- and we will not, we cannot let them down.
To we Marines, Semper Fidelis is more than a motto -- it was to them, and to us who were privileged to fight with them, a way of life...
Godspeed Taylor Prazynski. Day Is Done, Gone the Sun, From the Earth, From the Hill, From the Sky, All Is Well, Safely Rest, God Is Nigh...