ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Family members described William Taylor Wild IV as a loving son, caring brother and consummate Marine during a funeral Friday for the 21-year-old who was killed along with six others last week when a mortar shell exploded during a training exercise at a base in Nevada.
Hundreds of friends, loved ones and neighbors poured in to Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis to talk about Wild's life. Photos of Wild and his family were displayed and mourners wore small yellow ribbons on their lapels to celebrate the man everyone affectionately called Taylor.
"Taylor Wild knew that life was special," said, David Sprinkel, Wild's uncle, during the service. "Watching him spend time with his little sister Libby was incredible. Their play time usually erupted into a one-sided wrestling match. He would lift her off the ground spinning her over his head."
"Tossing a baseball back and forth in the backyard with his younger brother Griffin was special," Sprinkel added. "They would share stories and dreams before heading in for dinner."
The explosion that took Wild's life on March 18 involved the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force from Camp Lejeune, N.C. Eight were injured.
The Wilds last saw their son during Super Bowl weekend when he was on leave. Taylor was an avid Orioles and Ravens fan, his parents said.
In the days since his death, Wild has been described by loved ones as a Harry Potter enthusiast and sports fanatic.
The lance corporal joined the Marines shortly after graduating from Severna Park High in 2010. His parents said that he always wanted be in the military.
His father, William Taylor Wild III, is a command chief in the Air Force Reserve at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
Wild was in a weapons platoon and his specialty was mortars. The platoon was to deploy in November to Afghanistan, where he already done two tours, and one in Kuwait.
"Taylor was 100 percent Marine," said a long-time family friend during his funeral. "An American flag is the first thing you saw when you entered his room. It is fitting that throughout Taylor's journey from Nevada to Arlington, that his casket be draped in the flag of the country he so loved and proudly defended."
Wild will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Tuesday.
Wild was remembered by friends and family members as a humorous and kind-hearted young man with an infectious smile who showered his family with affection.
Wild grew up in the Whitehurst Community in Severna Park. He was a talented athlete who played on his high school wrestling and baseball teams.
"He was always smiling, always positive, said Lee Kinsella, a former classmate of Wild.
Echoing a similar sentiment, an emotional Sprinkel said, "Taylor was an inspiration and a hero."