TRENTON, GA, US
U.S. Marine Corps
LCPL, 1ST BN 2D MAR, (RCT-2, I MEF FWD), 2D MAR DIV, CAMP LEJEUNE, NC
03/22/2010, CAMP BASTION, AFGHANISTAN
Trenton, Georgia remembers twenty year old Lance Corporal William Taylor Richards as a very special young man who had a deep passion for country and his banjo. The 2008 graduate of Dade County High School died on June 26, 2010 in the Helmand province of Afghanistan during combat operations. Lance Corporal Richards was a squad automatic rifleman, according to the DOD, meaning he handled one of the heavier machine guns for the squad of about 15 Marines. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Lance Corporal Richards was devoted and passionate about his wife and infant daughter. Known as “Taylor” he was an excellent musician and a very dedicated father. His high school staff remembers him as a special person and marvelous banjo player with wonderful long hair.
Music was a large part of Taylor’s life. The music love stayed but his long hair went in preparation for enlistment into the Marines. Wherever he’s watching from right now, those who knew him know he’s got to feel proud that many people love him and appreciated his talents and thoroughly enjoyed the love he gave to those around him.
About 3:15 p.m., cars from the Dade County Sheriff’s Office and Georgia State Patrol rolled through the downtown traffic circle with blue lights strobing. Moments later, a white hearse and two limousines with U.S. flags and red Marine Corps banners flapping atop the windows made their solemn lap around the square. Standing among the 400 supporters downtown, Donna McElhaney held hands with those around her and sobbed quietly as the somber procession rolled through. She said Cpl. Richards lived with her family for a period and he played with her son in their Red Label Bluegrass Band.
“He deserves it,” she said of the turnout. “I’m surprised there aren’t more.”
About 2:45 p.m. the crowd quieted when a boom box in the square broadcast a Trenton radio station’s moment of silence followed by a recorded version of taps and “The Star Spangled Banner.” A bugler played a live rendition of taps when the hearse passed a half hour later.
Fifteen-year-old Miranda Smith held a sign calling Richards a “Dade County hero” and thanking him for his sacrifice. She said the youth group at Rising Fawn United Methodist Church, where Richards sometimes attended, made several similar signs.
“A lot of people miss him,” she said.
Donna and George Martin drove from Chickamauga and held a five-foot American flag out of their passenger window as they waited for the motorcade. On the eve of Independence Day weekend, Lance Corporal Richards should remind everyone of the sacrifices made for this country, Mrs. Martin said.
“It’s mighty little to do for what these boys and girls do for us,” she said of the procession. “He gave everything he possibly had so we could be here and sleep tonight and go to church on Sunday.”
Aaron McGill graduated from Dade High a year before. Richards and, his voice breaking with emotion, said the Marine was instrumental in getting him into music. Like many in the crowd, he remembered his friend’s talents singing, playing guitar and picking his banjo.
“He was a friend and, above all else, he was a hero,” he said.