Three months ago, Taylor Baune married his high school sweetheart shortly before his first deployment to Afghanistan with the Marines. On Wednesday, the 21-year-old Andover man became the 2,000th American killed in combat in Afghanistan, during operations in Helmand Province, the Defense Department said Thursday.
Baune, an Andover High School graduate who had joined the Marines in September 2008, was based out of Twentynine Palms, Calif. His unit is leading operations this summer in Sangin, a part of Helmand that has been seen the heaviest casualties of the war in Afghanistan. The military released no further information on the circumstances of his death.
Baune and his wife, Colleen, also from Anoka County, were married in Las Vegas in March and called the San Diego area home.
At his father's home in Andover, an American flag flapped in Thursday's intermittent rain. Neighbors said Taylor and his father moved into the house about six years ago, part of a close-knit suburban neighborhood where residents often look out for each other and chat in the street.
"I only saw Taylor a few times. I wish I had gotten to know him better now. He seemed like a good guy," said Tom Dooher, who moved in across the street about a year ago.
Cpl. Baune is the second Minnesota fatality in Afghanistan this year and the 28th from the state to die there in the current U.S. military campaign.
His current commitment was up late this year, said his father-in-law, Randy Crooker, and he was not intending to make the military a career. "He was a happy-go-lucky guy," Crooker said.
Taylor and Colleen attended Anoka High School together; Taylor was there through 10th grade and participated in golf and football.
Anoka Principal Michael Farley described him as a bright student.
"Just a good young man. I'm a former military person myself so I'm very proud that he served, but very saddened by this," said Farley, a Navy veteran. School officials sent out an e-mail Thursday about the death.
Baune's decorations included the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon and the NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan.
Staff writer Mark Brunswick contributed to this report. Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482