Hundreds of people gathered at the Capitol in Salt Lake City to honor the life and legacy of Marine Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover, who was killed in a Thursday terrorist attack outside the Kabul airport in Afghanistan.
The memorial vigil was held on the south steps of the building Sunday night.
Family, friends, dignitaries and even complete strangers came out to attend and pay their respects.
During the vigil, Gov. Spencer Cox gave an emotional tribute to Hoover and his family, following speeches from the fallen Utah Marine’s family and friends.
These are the steps of the @UTStateCapitol tonight. 100s gathered to honor the life of @USMC Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover, one of the 13 service members killed in #Afghanistan. His family has just landed from Dover AFB & will attend tonight’s memorial. Watch live on @KSL5TV KSL5TV pic.twitter.com/DsNZhXuuP1— Garna Mejia (@GarnaMejiaKSL) August 30, 2021
“When I enlisted, I was told that the Marine Corps was one big family with a family-like mindset, and today, we are celebrating the life of one of our own, so it’s like losing a brother,” said Camden Young from Brigham City, who just enlisted in the Marines.
Everyone who attended the event came with the same prayer in their hearts: to honor one man — Hoover.
“I wanted to prove to the family that their son will never be forgotten,” said Robert Theron Bates, chaplain of Veterans of Foreign War Post in American Fork. “He’s a hero. He went there and did what he was told.”
Hoover was one of the hundreds of Marines and U.S. troops assisting in evacuation efforts at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan. But on Thursday, his mission, along with 12 of his fellow service members, was cut short by the deadly suicide bombings.
“These service members were so nice to all the Afghans, to women. They were trying their best,” said Nazifa Rhabib, who escaped Afghanistan when she was a young girl. “This is the worst humanitarian crisis. They were on the spot; they had to make a decision, and I feel it.”
That’s why so many felt the need to come and pay their respects, because at just 31 years old, Hoover — and his brothers and sisters in arms — showed us what it means to be an American.
“Every Marine would put himself in the line of danger to help anybody else at any given moment,” said Young.
The vigil ended with a brief moment of silence, followed by the playing of taps.
A group of bagpipe players then performed “Amazing Grace” as the event officially came to a close.
Hoover’s father told KSL his son will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.