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For the second time in three years the military death of a young county resident was voted as the Daily Democrat's top news story of the year.
Nick Taylor of Berne was killed July 16 in Afghanistan while serving as a member of the Indiana National Guard.
Spc. Sergio Eduardo Perez of Crown Point, also died in the attack that included rocket-propelled grenade fire and small arms fire in the Kandahar Province during a mounted route clearance patrol.
Both men were members of the 713th Engineer Company, headquartered in Valparaiso, and were assigned to clearing military supply and combat routes.
Taylor's death was mourned throughout the county and beyond. When his body was returned to Berne from the Air National Guard base in Fort Wayne, it was led by hundreds of Patriot Guard motorcyclists. Area residents from far and wide lined the route of the procession to pay their respects.
Taylor's funeral was held at South Adams High School, and the gymnasium was packed for the event. He was posthumously presented with Bronze Star for meritorious service, the Purple Heart, and the Combat Action Badge.
“We are here to honor the expressed wishes of the Taylor family that this be a celebration of Nick’s life,” said Rev. Max Haines, pastor of the First Missionary Church in Berne. “He was special among us ... a good man who loved his Lord and his family. Nick was a Christian, and today he is celebrating eternal life in heaven. He sacrificed his earthly life for us and his colleagues in Afghanistan. Today we celebrate his eternal life.”
General R. Martin Umbarger, Adjutant General of the Indiana National Guard, read statements from several of Spc. Taylor’s fellow Guardsmen, one of whom described his fallen comrade as “one of a kind ... an amazing soldier.”
Umbarger said Taylor “is a hero, in every sense of the word, because freedom is purchased with the lives of patriots. I thank you, Spc. Taylor, for your service and sacrifice.”
Taylor was the second serviceman from Adams County to die in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Staff Sgt. Phillip Jenkins of Decatur became the first Adams County serviceman to give his life in the ongoing American conflicts.
Jenkins was laid to rest during private ceremonies in Decatur Cemetery on Sept. 18, 2010. That burial came 11 days after he was killed in Iraq in the line of duty.
Jenkins' death was voted by employees of the Decatur Daily Democrat to be the number one news story of 2010.