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YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — There are differences between a standard improvised explosive device and the machine-welded cylinder that killed John Taylor’s big brother.

What tore through the armored Humvee on Oct. 22, killing Maj. David Taylor Jr. and injuring others in Baghdad, was an explosively formed penetrator, John said Friday.

John, a Department of Defense Dependents Schools teacher at Nile C. Kinnick High School, accepted a memorial plaque on David’s behalf at Yokosuka Naval Base on Friday.

John and David’s parents also were DODDS teachers and spent a decade in Yokosuka before moving to England in 2004.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ recent assertion that Iran is supplying lethal weapons to Iraq came as no surprise to the Taylors, as military officials told them the same thing, John said.

“They said the cell was more professional, almost like they were testing and evaluating the device,” said John, who has watched the dashboard video footage recorded on his brother’s Humvee before the screen went black.

John said he learned of David’s death when he returned from a Kinnick field trip to find his school administrators and psychologist waiting for him in the parking lot.

“It was like getting the wind knocked out of me,” he said. “You’ve seen the scenes in the movies when the mother falls to the floor or when the spouses fall down with grief — it’s really like that. I couldn’t breathe.”

The two brothers followed similar courses through childhood. Both were presidents of their high school’s senior class, both got ROTC scholarships and both loved German gummy bears to distraction.

Just before David died, John had sent him and his troops hundreds of dollars worth of gummy bears. David was with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, assigned to Baumholder, Germany, but he was attached to the 4th Brigade Combat Team while in Iraq.

“One of the first things David would do when he got the packages was to bring all the men in and let them get first dibs on the treats,” John said in his eulogy. “He wanted to offer whatever he could to the troops out on the line. He was, very simply, a good and decent man.”

David, 37, also is survived by his wife, Michelle, and his eight-month-old son, Jake. His parents, David Sr. and Kay, have been “overwhelmed” by the Yokosuka response to their son’s death, John said.

David was commemorated at last year’s Veterans Day tribute at Yokosuka Middle School, and Friday’s plaque — donated by the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ regional district — will be posted in The Sullivans School’s “wall of honor.”

It’s important for children to recognize their historical ties “to someone who has served and made the ultimate sacrifice,” said VFW 1054 commander Kirk McKnight.

John said he’ll remember David as a confident, practical and playful older brother who “loved his job” and was very good at it.


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