Marine 2,000th US Death in Afghan War

Marine Cpl. Taylor J. Baune, 21, became the 2,000th American death in the Afghan war.
Marine Cpl. Taylor J. Baune, 21, became the 2,000th American death in the Afghan war.

An Andover Marine who died Wednesday, June 13, in Afghanistan loved to sing and dance and had a passion for life, relatives said.

Cpl. Taylor J. Baune, 21, was killed "while conducting combat operations in the Helmand province," according to a statement from the military. His wife, Colleen Baune, 20, said her husband was patrolling on foot when he was hit by a roadside bomb.

"I am trying to hang in there," she said from her home in San Diego on Thursday. "I think everyone is still in shock."

Taylor Baune became the 2,000th American to die in Operation Enduring Freedom, the name for what the Bush administration characterized as the "war on terror" after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, according to the Defense Department.

Baune was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force and was based out of Twentynine Palms, Calif.

He 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," Colleen Baune 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.

Baune is the 29th soldier from Minnesota to die in combat in Afghanistan. At least nine of the previous deaths also occurred in Helmand province.

A representative for the Marines said Thursday that additional details about the incident that killed Baune, including whether anyone else was injured, were not immediately available.

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