MACON, GA, USA U.S. Marines CPL, WPNS CO, 2D BN, 6TH MAR, (RCT-8), 2D MAR DIV, CAMP LEJEUNE, NC FALLUJAH, IRAQ 11/30/2005
Some of those closest to him remembered Billy Taylor as a jokester, a good-humored guy with an even temper who considered the Marines “the toughest of the tough.”
“We always kidded him for not being able to grow a mustache,” said his best friend, Blake Lambert. “Stuff like, ‘Wipe that pepper off your upper lip.’ I think he wanted to prove to everybody he could accomplish whatever he wanted, including Parris Island in the spring,” Lambert said.
Marine Corporal William Grady Taylor of Macon was killed Nov. 30 in Iraq, 18 days before his 27th birthday.
A mortar man assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, he was killed by enemy small arms fire outside Fallujah, according to a Corps spokesman. He had deployed to Iraq from Camp Lejeune, N.C., in September, and was to return to the United States in May.
He leaves a 4-year-old daughter, Leah Amber, in Gray, in Jones County north of Macon.
“He saw his daughter just before he shipped out,” said his older brother, Joshua Morales. “When his tour in the Marines was finished, he wanted to get a job so he could be with Leah.”
A 1997 graduate of Macon’s Northeast High, Taylor had done construction work before joining the Marines in May 2002, and served with a Corps honor guard at the Marine Barracks in Washington, D.C., before deploying to Iraq, Morales said.
Taylor telephoned from Iraq in mid-November, Morales said in a phone interview Tuesday. “He sounded pretty good. He didn’t talk much about his mission, but he said his time was going fast, that he was guarding convoys.”
April Cooper, Morales’ fiancee, said, “He was a true clown, he always wanted to make people laugh, and he made the time around him fun. He was torn between staying in the Marines and coming home to be with his daughter and watch her grow. At 4 years old, she looks almost like him.”
“He fought to keep this land safe for his daughter,” said Taylor’s mother, Catherine Krattli.
Though Taylor and the child’s mother separated, “he always loved and took full responsibility for his daughter and her well-being,” said his stepfather, Mike Krattli, a former Marine.
Lambert recalled Tuesday that he was happy for his best friend when Taylor enlisted and recalled — without regret — how he drove him to the Marine recruiting station in Macon to enlist, and to the bus station for Parris Island and boot camp.
“My only regret.” Lambert said. “The last letter I wrote him Nov. 26, I didn’t tell him I loved him.”