Nicholas Taylor of Berne and another Indiana National Guard soldier died this week in a complex attack during a mounted route clearance patrol, the Indiana National Guard said today.
Taylor and Sergio Perez of Crown Point, members of the "Sapper" 713th Engineer Company headquartered in Valparaiso, were assigned to clear military supply and combat routes, the National Guard said in a statement.
The attack in Kandahar Province included rocket-propelled grenade fire and small-arms fire, the statement said.
"Every such loss is a heartbreak," Gov. Mitch Daniels said in the statement. "We are hit with special severity here because of the casualties this heroic unit has already endured."
Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, Indiana National Guard adjutant general, said: "My heart is heavy today as I consider the soldiers of the 713th Engineer Company who, for the second time in their combat tour, have experienced the multiple loss of their teammates.
"I am so fiercely proud of the service and sacrifice of these fallen heroes, and so very grateful for their families who loved and supported them."
Taylor was a former standout athlete at South Adams High School, his family said Monday night.
The 2010 graduate died while looking for roadside bombs, according to his family.
Taylor, 20, joined the Indiana National Guard soon after he graduated high school.
He was driving an armored truck when it was hit by a rocket propelled grenade, according to his younger brother Drew Taylor.
"He's always been a kind-hearted guy," Drew Taylor said of his older brother. "He would go out of his way to make people feel good."
Nick Taylor played linebacker in football, wrestled at 171 pounds and was a thrower for the track team at the school of about 400 students.
Jeff Lehman coached Nick Taylor in football and track and also had him in class.
Lehman said he last saw the young man when he was home in the spring. The two would chat on Facebook often and they last spoke June 26.
"He was just a fun-loving guy," Lehman said. "He was just smiling all the time."
The small community really couldn't believe the news as word spread Monday afternoon, Lehman said.
"It's pretty rough," Lehman said. "I think we're still in shock. I think everyone is going to rally around the Taylor family.
Nick Taylor also is survived by his dad Tim Taylor, who is the Berne police chief, mother Stephania Taylor and sisters Holly and Sophia.
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