Family remembers Oregon Guardsman killed in Iraq

MONMOUTH — Relatives of an Oregon teenager killed in Iraq remember Taylor Marks as a young man who didn’t want to go into debt, so he went into the National Guard.

His stepfather says the 19-year-old from Monmouth planned to go to the University of Oregon to study finance and Japanese.

He decided to join the Guard to raise college money.

Marks was guarding a convoy Friday when an armor-piercing projectile struck. He and 38-year-old Sgt. Earl Werner of Amboy, Washington, died. They are the first fatalities in the deployment of about 2,400 Oregon-based soldiers this summer.

“He didn’t want to incur any debt, and he didn’t want us to incur any debt,” said Marks’ stepfather, Don Mack of Monmouth. “He came home and told us that he was going to join the Guard to help pay for his school.”

Marks was born in Salem and raised in Monmouth. On the night of his high school graduation, in late May 2008, Marks told the Statesman Journal that he planned to continue working at his job at a Chevron station, then enter the National Guard in August.

“I’m a little bit nervous, but I’ve got some big plans to look forward to,” Marks said then.

He ended up going to National Guard training with a friend.

The Oregon Military Department said he was contracted to go to the Defense Language Institute at the Presidio in California, but made the decision to defer his schooling to deploy with the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

The military department says he has been promoted posthumously from private first class to specialist.

Werner, 38, was on his third deployment with the Oregon Guard. He had won the Bronze Star, two Army Commendation Medals and the Combat Action Badge.

A third soldier, 24-year-old Specialist Reid Walch of Redmond, was seriously wounded by shrapnel. He was evacuated to a combat support hospital for treatment, Capt. Stephen Bomar said.

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