SANDY, Utah (KUTV) — The Utah Marine killed in a blast at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan decided at a young age to serve in the military after seeing the Twin Towers fall in the September 11, 2001 terrorist activity.
Utah Marine Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover was one of 13 US service members killed while trying to get Afghan families to safety. He was 31 years old.
He loved his country and loved people. His father, Darin Hoover, was surrounded by a memorial of American flags erected Friday after neighbors learned the terrible news.
Taylor was a born leader, his dad said.
"He led his men, and they followed him, but I know in my heart of hearts he was out front,” he said. “They (his fellow Marines) would follow him through the gates of hell if that’s what it took.
Darin Taylor Hoover, Jr. joined the Marines as a 19-year-old young man, based out of Camp Pendleton in California.
He was the oldest of three children, with two younger sisters. His dad said he did not want his son’s life tied up in the politics of the evacuation of Afghanistan.
Instead, he said, he wants, “everyone to know what a great young man he was.”
Twenty years ago, the 9/11 terrorist attack made an impact that would determine the course of the rest of his life.
“He decided, ‘That’s what I want to do,” Darin said.
He loved his family, and his family loved him.
“(He was the) best kid in the world,” Darin said. “Couldn’t ask for any better.”
His father, a former officer with the West Valley City Police Department and current deputy in the Daggett County Sheriff’s Office, taught public service through action.
“He took it more than two or three steps above me,” he said.
It was Taylor’s third tour of duty in Afghanistan. He shipped off in May and was scheduled home in September.
Darin said his son “was doing for others what they couldn’t do for themselves, and he made the ultimate sacrifice doing that.”
Hoover could never say where he was stationed, but he always kept in contact with his family.
“He sent a cryptic message saying, ‘I can’t tell you where I am or where I’m going- but just watch the news. You will know,” Darin said.
Darin was on his way to work Thursday when he got a call from home. There were two marines on the doorstep.
He learned his son was one of more than 160 civilians and 13 marines service members killed when a suicide bomber detonated explosives at the entrance to the airport, where Taylor was helping people evacuate.
Even in his own pain, Darin Hoover was thinking of those who’ve gone before, those Taylor served with and his brothers and sisters still on the front lines.
“Just support our armed forces,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing. These guys go out knowing at any time or place their life can be taken in a blink of an eye, and they do it for our freedom every single day.”
Taylor Hoover was a 2008 graduate of Hillcrest High School where he played football.
His father did not yet know if he will be laid to rest at home in Utah or elsewhere. His mom now lives in Missouri, and together they await word from the Marines on their sons’ final requests and resting place.
Taylor Hoover leaves behind two sisters, a niece, nephews and his girlfriend in California.
A GoFundMe page was made by Marines Hoover served with. Funds will go to his family during their time of loss, as well as any funeral expenses.