An Azle man was killed Thursday in Afghanistan when insurgents attacked his unit with small-arms fire.
Staff Sgt. Houston M. Taylor, 25, who had served in the Army since 2005, died in Kunar province. The mountainous province in northeast Afghanistan borders Pakistan and has been the scene of intense fighting.
"He was a warrior, and he was fighting for a cause that he truly believed in," said Maj. Dave Eastburn a spokesman for the brigade in which Sgt. Taylor served. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family right now as they go through this terrible time. He was a great leader and is on our minds every day as we continue to fight, just as he would have wanted. He'll truly be missed."
Sgt. Taylor was married to his high school sweetheart and was the father of two children.
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His wife, Kelsey Rae Taylor, said her husband was "a very good dad" to their son, Rylan, 4, and daughter, Avery, 1.
"He was very strong," she said. "He never complained about anything he had to do."
During his last call home, Sgt. Taylor told his wife that he wouldn't be able to call her for 10 days or so, because he was about to start a mission.
"I asked him if I should be scared, because I always ask that when he says he can't call me for a while," she said. "He said, 'No, because I'm not.' Then we said, 'I love you' and got off the phone."
Kelsey Taylor met her future husband when she was 17, though she was at Poolville High School and he was at Azle High. "His cousin was going to school with me," she said. "We were married when we were 19, in 2005."
That also was the year Sgt. Taylor committed to his other love, the Army. Taylor, a native of Portsmouth, Va., joined the infantry and trained at Fort Benning, Ga.
His mother, Renee Cremean, said he was destined for the service from the time he was 8 or 10. She knew by the way he played.
"When other kids played soldier, they said, 'I'm going to get my gun.' He said, 'I'm going to get my weapon.'" Cremean said. "He loved serving his country. He was very protective of the soldiers under him."
Sgt. Taylor's first assignment was with Alpha Company, 2-8 Infantry Battalion. He deployed twice with that unit before joining the 25th Infantry Division.
Eastburn said the brigade was a little more than halfway through a 12-month deployment when Sgt. Taylor was killed. He was taking part in Operation Rugged Sharak, the Defense Department said.
Other survivors include his father, Shawn Taylor; brothers, Austin and Dallas Taylor; grandmother, Mary Cremean; and paternal grandparents Freddie and Jackie Taylor.
No details about memorials or services were released.
Terry Evans, 817-390-7620