BALTIMORE — William Taylor Wild IV always wanted to be in the military. The walls of his room are covered with Marine Corps and Naval Academy posters.
He loved teamwork and had been a pitcher at Severna Park High School in the town where he grew up and joined the Marines shortly after graduating in 2010.
“He has a huge personality and didn’t hold anything back,” Elizabeth Wild said Wednesday of her son, whom everyone called Taylor. “If he loved you, you knew it.”
The lance corporal was among seven Marines killed Monday when a mortar shell exploded during a training exercise at a base in Hawthorne, Nev.
Elizabeth Wild talked about her 21-year-old son during a phone interview Wednesday while she sat in his room in Severna Park, a suburb about eight miles south of Annapolis.
She said that while at her job Tuesday as a teacher at an elementary and middle school, someone had told her about the explosion in Nevada.
“I just had a bad feeling,” she said. Marines soon arrived to notify her and her husband, William Taylor Wild III, a command chief in the Air Force Reserve at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
The Wilds last saw their son during Super Bowl weekend when he was on leave. “He was an avid Ravens and Orioles fan,” his father said.
It was the prospect of adventure that attracted Taylor Wild to the Marines, his mother said, as well as his dedication to a mission.
Taylor Wild was in a weapons platoon and his specialty was mortars. The platoon was to deploy in November to Afghanistan, where he had already done two tours and one in Kuwait.
“Taylor was so funny. He could make people laugh,” Elizabeth Wild recalled. She said she has a picture of him with seven other Marines. “He’s the only one smiling,” she said.
Taylor Wild was also affectionate. “I got hugs (from Taylor) in front of people,” she said.
Taylor Wild grew up in Severna Park. He has a younger brother and sister.
The explosion Monday night involved the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force from Camp Lejeune, N.C. Seven men were killed and eight were injured, officials said. A Navy corpsman is among those hurt.
At his home Wednesday night, the elder William Wild, who goes by Bill, said he has not received any details from the military regarding the explosion that killed his son.
“We know it was a training accident,” he said. “We know that it’s being investigated.”
Investigators are at the ammunition depot to try to determine how a mortar shell exploded and sent shrapnel flying into troops during the exercise.
Bill Wild said that the family is coping as best they can.
“Planning to bury your son is something no one should ever have to do,” Wild said. “Coping is you sleep when you can. You eat. You take five minutes for yourself. I don’t know that there is any perfect way to cope.”
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