Maryland community rallies around family of Marine killed in Nevada
The Capital, Annapolis, Md.
SEVERNA PARK, Md. — They came in the morning, two Marines, walking up the driveway to the Severna Park home.
Inside, Bill Wild read reports online about the accident, those few early details about an explosion during training.
He heard from his son about a day before, a text message — all was well.
Then the Marines rang the doorbell. Through the window, Wild saw their uniforms.
And he knew.
They said his oldest son was dead. Lance Cpl. William “Taylor” Wild IV was killed in the explosion in Nevada. It’s still not clear what happened. Wild asked the Marines what he must do. Then he went to tell his wife.
Wild speaks of that moment with a steady voice. Tears will return later, he says. It’s been two days since his 21-year-old son was killed. Down the street, a flag flies at half-mast in his community of Whitehurst on the Magothy.
Taylor pledged to join the Marines while a student at Severna Park High School. Bill was uncertain at first. But he supported the decision. Even now, there are no doubts.
“Why would I have second thoughts? We’re devastated but he died doing what he loved,” said Bill, a corporal with the county police department.
Taylor graduated in 2010, served a tour of Afghanistan in 2011 and volunteered to deploy to Kuwait last fall. He earned the Combat Action Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, National Defense Service Medal, among others.
His Facebook page is filled with condolences from former classmates and fellow Marines. Many invoked the Marine Corps motto of “Semper Fi” — “Always faithful.”
There are memories Bill wants to share, such as Christmas 2011 when Taylor returned to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. The family drove six hours that morning. They waited at the base for Taylor’s arrival, then a long drive home.
They ate Christmas dinner late — but together.
Taylor pitched for Severna Park’s 2009 state championship baseball team. He shot skeet and relished time on the water.
When home, he’d walk his 9-year-old sister, Libby, to the community pool, recalled neighbor Bob Richhart. She never seemed to walk alone.
“You could see the change in him after he joined,” Richhart said. “You could see how proud he was.”
Richhart spent an afternoon with the young Marine last summer, swapping stories poolside. Richhart served four years in the Marines and spoke of how he was once caught with contraband Juicy Fruit and ordered to chew the wrappers. Taylor laughed.
Richhart grows silent at the memory, perhaps thinking of a young Marine who will never share stories of his own.
The community association is planning a memorial in Taylor’s memory. Neighbors organized Wednesday to place a small flag at each home.
“We wanted to help but didn’t know what to do,” said Diane Lyons.
She’s lived 40 years in Whitehurst with her husband, Don. Together, they watched Taylor grow and speak of him with the pride of parents.
“He turned into such a polite, good-looking young man,” she said. “You come to admire these kids.”
So she bought the flags, more than 150. And called neighbors to help.
Bruce Serinis carried an armful while walking along the street.
“It’s terrible,” he said, chewing a cigar. “The family needs our help.”
Patricia Zwald’s son, Andrew, also served in the Marines and grew up in the community.
“I can’t make any sense of it,” she said. “The only thing I can say is God has His reasons.”
Neighbor Erin Jacobs delivered sandwiches and salads from her husband’s Annapolis restaurant, Carrol’s Creek Waterfront Restaurant.
Others brought platters and dishes, so much food the family fridge was filled and leftovers stored in the community clubhouse.
Wednesday evening, neighbors arrived after work. Small flags flapped as they walked in the streets and up the driveway. The sun was setting and they still came into that quiet court, their cars left running.
And for a time at least, the headlights held off the dark.