CHARLESTON - They were knobs together at The Citadel, recruits together on Parris Island.
Darius Evans remembers how he and Jonathan Taylor built on a friendship in boot camp that started during their first year at the Charleston military school.
Both young men would go on to become Marines, but they would never have a chance to serve together.
Taylor, a 22-year-old lance corporal from Jacksonville, Fla., was killed in combat Tuesday in the Helmand province of Afghanistan.
Taylor's death brings to 15 the number of Citadel alumni who have died in connection with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Evans, a 23-year-old Marine reservist and fifth-year senior at The Citadel, recalled Taylor as determined, motivated and driven.
"Seeing his performance and work ethic as a knob, I'm sure he was a great Marine who would have gone on and made great contributions to his country," Evans said.
Taylor enrolled at The Citadel in 2005 and was a member of Mike Company. He was honorably discharged at the end of his knob year in the spring of 2006.
Both he and Evans joined the Marines the summer after their freshman year.
Taylor went on active duty after boot camp. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Evans said Taylor served a tour in Iraq before leaving for Afghanistan.
Taylor grew up in Jacksonville. He knew he wanted to be in the military from a young age, said Sgt. 1st Class Myron Jackson, who runs the JROTC program at Wolfson High School, where Taylor attended. Taylor was 13 when he joined the Naval Sea Cadets Corps.
"He has always aspired to go into the military," Jackson said.
A picture of Taylor in his JROTC uniform is part of a collage at the high school. Many of the students there ask questions about who he was, Jackson said.
The program's 170 students will line the runway when Taylor's body is brought off the plane in Jacksonville, Jackson said. He doesn't know when that will be. The military has not released the body.
"An alumnus who makes the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms deeply affects the entire Citadel family," said Jeff Perez, vice president for external affairs. "Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to Lance Cpl. Taylor's family and friends at this difficult time."