Funeral for NYPD soldier killed

November 6, 2008 2:44:34 PM PST
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 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 North Anson, 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; 258 members of the NYPD are 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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