Defense Update: Our 2,000th American Death in Afghanistan

Every additional death in any military conflict is a tragedy. But for some reason, the 100th, the 1,000th or, as in this case, the 2,000th American to die in our wars comes to symbolize a very conspicuous, sad milestone.

While we may not remember the names, I am sure most of us were shocked when we read about the 2,000th, the 3,000th and then the 4,000th American to die during the war in Iraq.

On June 13, after more than 10 years of fighting in Afghanistan, Marine Cpl. Taylor J. Baune is the 2,000th American to die in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Cpl. Taylor J. Baune, from Andover, Minn. was only 21 and was killed “while conducting combat operations in the Helmand province,” according to a statement by the U.S. military

That is the grim statistic. Now the young man behind the statistic.

According to Military.com News

[Cpl. Taylor Baune] deployed to Afghanistan on March 24, 22 days after he married his high-school sweetheart in Las Vegas among family, Colleen Baune said. The two started dating while she was 15 and he was 16 in high school.

Taylor Baune graduated from Andover High School in 2009.

“He was the most fun, carefree person,” [his wife, Colleen Baune, 20,] said. “He was always trying to make people laugh and would do whatever he could to turn someone’s day around.”

“He lit up the room when he showed up,” Colleen’s father, Randy Crooker of Anoka, said of his son-in-law.

The avid golfer followed in the footsteps of other men in his family when he joined the military, Colleen Baune said.

“It was his dream,” Colleen Baune said. “And once he sets his mind on something, you can’t change it.”

The couple planned to stay in California while Colleen Baune finished college and then to return to the Minnesota area. They liked to cook together and go bowling, Colleen Baune said. Her husband also especially liked to sing and dance.

“He was always trying to get me to do it with him,” she said.

Andover High School assistant principal Bob Bursaw called his death “sad news.” Baune transferred to Andover from Anoka High School during his junior year, Bursaw said.

Crooker said three Marines delivered the news to his daughter late Wednesday as she returned home from work in San Diego.

He also said the corporal had planned to return to civilian life after he finished his tour in November or December.

In addition to his wife, Taylor Baune is survived by a half-brother, half-sister, his father, and his in-laws. His mother died a few years ago, Colleen Baune said.

His body is expected to arrive in Dover, Del., on Saturday and be returned to Minnesota from there, Colleen Baune said.

Finally, “Baune is the 29th soldier from Minnesota to die in combat in Afghanistan,” and, now, the 2,000th fallen hero in that war.

Read more here

Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist