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Army Spc. Deon L. Taylor

Died October 22, 2008 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

30, of Bronx, N.Y.; assigned to the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, New York Army National Guard, Syracuse, N.Y.; died Oct. 22 in Bela Ba Luk, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device.

Army Spc. Deon L. Taylor remembered

The Associated Press

Deon L. Taylor, of New York City, went to Maine as an 8-year-old participant in the Fresh Air Fund program, which brings city youths to rural towns.

“I could see things differently through his eyes. He had never seen stars like ours, never wild animals. He wanted to know who let them out of the zoo. I always missed him when he left and was glad to see him when he came back,” said to Rose Church, whose family hosted Taylor.

Taylor, 30, of New York City, died Oct. 22 in Bela Beluk, Afghanistan, of wounds from a roadside explosion. He was on his second deployment to Afghanistan and was assigned to Syracuse, N.Y.

He graduated from Old Westbury College in Long Island with a degree in sociology and criminology. He joined the NYPD in 2005 as a transit cop and then was promoted to the narcotics division in Brooklyn.

He is survived by his 8-year-old son, DaRue, and fiancée, Caitlin Casey.

He was a huge fan of the Yankees, the Knicks and the Giants.

“Deon was the apple of my eye,” said his grandmother, Shirley Taylor. “I’m going to miss that big smile and that big bear hug he used to give me. But no more, no more.”

Funeral for NYPD soldier killed in Afghanistan

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — As a child, Deon Taylor loved to play GI Joe and stood ready to protect his friends from bullies.

On Thursday, dignitaries joined his grief-stricken family to honor “our GI Joe” for protecting his city, as a police officer, and his country, as a member of the Army National Guard. It was in the latter role, during his second tour of duty, that the 30-year-old sergeant was killed in Afghanistan.

“Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived is to have succeeded,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday in a eulogy at Riverside Church. “By that token, Deon achieved the greatest possible success in life.”

Taylor grew up in the Bronx, but graduated from Carrabec High School in Portland, Maine. At age 18, he proudly enlisted in the Army.

“Deon’s family breathed a sigh of relief when his tour ended,” noted an obituary included in his funeral program.

He got his bachelor’s degree in sociology at the State University of New York College at Old Westbury on Long Island, graduated from the Police Academy and worked as an undercover narcotics officer. Then he broke the news to his family about his second tour.

His mother, the obituary noted, “was already worn out from praying during his first tour.”

“The American heroes aren’t always the ones who make history books, rather the ones who change lives,” Taylor’s brother, Damarr, said in a written remembrance.

On Oct. 22, the family’s worst fears came true. Among the hymns chosen to lend them comfort on Thursday: “We are tossed and driven on the restless sea of time. ... We will understand it better by and by.”

He is the third NYPD officer to die overseas in recent years. The NYPD has 258 members currently on military leave, many of them serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

Survivors include his parents, Pamela and Leon Taylor; Damarr Taylor; fiance Caitlin Casey; and his son, Da’Rue.

Taylor had planned to return home in December, and to marry Casey in August 2009. “The only way that I can make sense of this is by realizing that God needed you more than we do,” she wrote.

Another message came from 8-year-old Da’Rue:

“I love you Daddy and I will keep you in my heart forever.”

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