Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover was one of 13 U.S. service members killed in a suicide bombing Thursday in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Friends and relatives are remembering the life of the man they dearly loved.
Hoover was just 31 years old and on his third deployment to Afghanistan. His father, Darin* Hoover, said his son loved serving what the American flag represents: Freedom.
Serving the red, white and blue was something Darin Hoover did as a police officer and something his son followed.
“He took it more than two or three steps above me, and he was doing for others what they couldn't do for themselves,” he said.
Taylor Hoover served in the Marines beginning at age 19, but he knew long before then that this was what he wanted to do.“
He was 11 years old at 9/11, and that's when he decided, ‘That's what I want to do,'” his father said.
That dream resulted in three deployments in Afghanistan. He left in May for what became his final one.
“He sent a cryptic message saying, ‘I can't tell you where I am or where I'm going, but just watch the news and you'll know,’” Darin Hoover said.
On Thursday morning, Darin Hoover learned that his son — the first to give him the title of father — would be the son to give him a gold star.
“He led his men. He led his men into that, and they followed him. But I know in my heart of hearts he was out front and they would have followed him through the gates of hell if that's what it took, and ultimately, that's what he did -- just to help preserve our freedoms and help those who are less fortunate that don't have what we have,” the sergeant’s dad said.
“I’m proud of him. Our family couldn't be more proud of him,” he added.
FOX 13 asked Darin Hoover what the community could do for him and his family, and he asked them to support the armed forces.
We also spoke with one of Sgt. Hoover's childhood friend, who played football with him all through high school and before. The two went to Hillcrest High School together in Midvale.
“He was the shy kid, the nicest kid in the world, so this doesn't surprise me he was front and center of this horrible thing," said Nate Thompson. "He was the shy kid, but he wasn't shy on the football field, and that's what we loved about him... We're going to miss him dearly."
Sgt. Hoover’s body and the other service members who were killed in the attack were brought back to the United States on Sunday.
Earlier today, @USMC Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover, a 2008 @HillcrestHighUT graduate, was honored with a dignified transfer at Dover Air Force Base.— 𝐁𝐫𝐢𝐚𝐧 𝐒𝐜𝐡𝐧𝐞𝐞 (@brian_schnee) August 29, 2021
TONIGHT at 8:30 p.m., there will be a memorial service for Hoover on the south steps of the @UTStateCapitol. pic.twitter.com/Y6aGR0kwYD
A vigil will be held in Sgt. Hoover's honor Sunday at 8:30 p.m. on the steps of the Utah State Capitol.
*Editor's note: The late Marine sergeant's full name is Darin Taylor Hoover, but he went by and was known as Taylor.