Arkansas community mourns for Marine killed in Afghanistan blast

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A memorial vigil honoring SSgt. Taylor Hoover is planned for Sept. 3 in Marion, Arkansas, where he had family connections.

Hoover, 31, was one of 13 U.S. service members killed in a blast at the Kabul airport as troops were pulling out of a 20-year war there Aug. 26.

Hoover, a 31-year-old Utah resident, spent a good portion of his childhood visiting family in West Memphis, Arkansas. 

Roller-Citizens Funeral Home in West Memphis said Hoover was the nephew of pastor Jeremey Soto and his wife Heather, who serve at Victory Church of the Mid-South in Marion, Arkansas.

Jason Johnston is a family friend and manager at Roller-Citizens Funeral Home, where people have been signing a register book, writing condolences to Hoover’s family.

“Such a great caliber of dedication he gave in his life,” Johnston said. “He gave it all and he will be there in the garden of stones of honor of Arlington National Cemetery.”

Hoover was recognized by Governor Asa Hutchinson Tuesday. The governor highlighted the staff sergeant’s 12 years of service, including three tours in Afghanistan.  

“I wanted to express appreciation for the life of Staff Sergeant Hoover and the work that he did to save lives in Afghanistan,” Gov. Hutchinson said, “May his service and sacrifice to this nation never be forgotten.”

The vigil is planned for 7 p.m., Sept. 3 at the Marion Performing Arts Center. No open flames are allowed, only battery-operated lights.

Two funeral homes are also opening register books for people who would like to convey sympathies and condolences. Those books will be on display from Aug. 30 to Sept. 3, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, at:

  • Roller-Citizens Funeral Home, 201 N. Pine Street, West Memphis, Ark.
  • Brent Taylor and Paul McCarver Funeral Directors, 948 Reddoch Cove, Memphis, Tenn.

“We all grieve for the Americans we lost, and we pray for the all injured in the attack. Our hearts go out to all of their loved ones,” Roller-Citizens said in a statement.

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