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BERNE — The family of an Indiana National Guard soldier from Berne says he was killed Sunday night during an attack in Afghanistan.
Nick Taylor, 20, of Berne was driving an armored truck when it was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, according to his brother Drew Taylor. He told The Journal Gazette that Guard officials told the family that his brother wasn’t the only soldier killed in the attack but didn’t give details.
Taylor, who graduated from South Adams High School in 2010, died while looking for roadside bombs, according to his family, who learned of his death Sunday night.
A National Guard spokesman didn’t immediately return a message seeking more information.
Taylor is the son of Berne's police chief, Timothy Taylor and his wife, Stephania. He was an Army Specialist in combat engineering through a unit in Valparaiso.
Berne Mayor Bill McKean, like so many local residents, this morning said he was "at a loss for words" to describe his feelings about Taylor's death.
"He was a great young man; all he wanted to do was serve his country," McKean said.
The mayor said flags will be lowered to half staff in Berne and throughout the county once Taylor's body returns to U.S. soil. "But the word we got yesterday is that that could be soon, or it could be up to 10 days. We just don't know at this point."
State Representative and Berne resident Matt Lehman this morning called Taylor's death "a tragic loss for our community."
"It's hard ... what do you say? When you lose a kid in a small community like ours, it's like losing a family member," said Lehman. "Nick was a great athlete who knew a lot about making sacrifices, and now he's paid the ultimate sacrifice."
Lehman said he was attending the Adams County 4-H Fair last evening when word began to spread about Taylor's death. "There were two reactions ... the first was disbelief, and then there was shock. He was one of ours."
Lehman said he believes Taylor was the first member of the U.S. military from Berne to give his life for his country since Vietman.
According to the Indiana's NewsCenter website, Jim Newbold, Berne's assistant police chief, said Taylor was an outstanding athlete and competed in football, wrestling, and track.
“He was a very popular young man,” said Newbold.
Newbold also served in the military. He said knowing Taylor died serving his country means a lot. “For the young men and women that do serve our country, I can't say enough about them. As for Nick, I'm kind of at a loss for words,” he said.
Taylor served in Afghanistan for about 10 months, and was scheduled to come home in September.
Newbold says he’s reached out to the family, but hasn't heard from them. He says everyone in town is "in shock" over the news.
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.
He told The Journal Gazette he last saw Nick Taylor 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,” Jeff 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.
Between basic training and his deployment to Afghanistan last September, Taylor worked at Smith Brother's Furniture, Inc. with his mother, Stephania.
In addition to his parents, Nick is survived by a brother and two sisters, Holly and Sophia. Funeral arrangements are pending at this time.