He was the teenager who wasn't embarrassed to hug his mom at Severna Park High School while other students looked on, who pitched on the Falcons' 2009 state championship baseball team, and who matured into a Marine with a swallow tattoo on his right arm.
Marine Lance Cpl. William Taylor Wild IV — best known as Taylor — died Monday in a military training exercise at Hawthorne Army Depot, Nevada, according to his parents. He was 21.
As of Wednesday evening, the Department of Defense had not formally identified the seven Marines who died when a mortar round detonated in its launching tube during a training exercise.
"He was a great kid, what can I say," said his father, Anne Arundel County Police Cpl. William Taylor Wild III.
His father said that Tuesday morning he opened the front door of the family's Severna Park home to see two Marines on his doorstep, and immediately knew why they were there. Then they all went to St. Martin's in-the-field Episcopal School in Severna Park, where his wife, Elizabeth "Betz" Wild, teaches and is athletic director.
"He was always saying 'Love you, mama,'" said his mother, recalling when she took a steak sub to him at school on his birthday — and he hugged her right there in the hallway.
The oldest of three children, he was big brother and playmate for siblings Griffin, 16, and Libby, 9.
"When he was home, the house was loud," his mother said. "He and his brother were wrestling on the floor. And every time he was home he made time for his sister somewhere. The last time, he took her to the Maryland Zoo."
His bedroom still had Taylor Swift, Duke Blue Devils and Marine Corps posters, his parents said.
He loved coming home to his own bed, his own house and his own family. Though he'd missed many holidays, he made it home this past Christmas after a seven-month tour in Afghanistan.
William Wild said he woke up Tuesday to a telephone filled with messages from family members asking if he'd heard anything from Taylor. They knew the 2010 Severna Park High School graduate was in the Second Marine Expeditionary Force stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., but was at the Nevada base for training.
Taylor Wild had decided before graduation that he wanted to join the Marines, his parents said. His paternal grandfather was in the Marines in the 1960s.
"He wanted to be in the infantry, he wanted to be a mortar man," said his father, who has been in the Air Force Reserve for 28 years.
His parents said he had gotten into skeet shooting recently and was a wrestler and baseball player in high school. He took advanced placement classes at Severna Park, and courses at Anne Arundel Community College during his high school senior year.
Alex Ramsay, a former teammate on Severna Park High's baseball team, said Taylor could make the team lighten up after a lost game.
"He could make a bad situation a good one," said Ramsay, 20, who went on to play baseball for the University of Maryland, College Park. "He would bring everyone down a peg, like what's really happening isn't so bad."
Ramsay said he wasn't surprised when Taylor joined the Marines in 2010. He liked teamwork.
"He was never about himself," Ramsay said. "He was always about helping others, to help his team out or to help his country out."
His mother said that on Taylor's Facebook page, "friends can't say enough about him, how he always had a smile on his face. One of them said, 'I remember laughing with you in English class.'"
Taylor was a big Ravens fan — the last time he was home was Super Bowl weekend — and a big enough O's fan to have the Orioles bird tattooed in the inside of his left biceps.
Monday's accident killed seven Marines from Camp Lejeune and injured eight other service members at the Hawthorne Army Depot. The blast was among the deadliest military training accidents on U.S. soil in recent years. In February 2012, seven Marines were killed when two helicopters collided during an exercise along the California-Arizona border.
Taylor is the third service member from Maryland killed in the past two weeks. U.S. Army Capt. Sara Knutson Cullen, of Eldersburg, died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan March 11; and Navy Lt. j.g. Valerie Cappelaere Delaney, 26, a 2009 Naval Academy graduate from Ellicott City, died the same day when the EA-6B Prowler jet she was piloting crashed near Spokane, Wash.
In addition to his parents and siblings, Wilds' survivors include grandparents William and Patricia Wild Jr. of Glen Burnie, and Jan Sprinkel of Annapolis; aunts Lisa Wild of Glen Burnie and Kelly Breeden of Pasadena; uncles David Sprinkel of Timonium and Joseph Sprinkel of Hawaii. Visitation will be 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. March 28 at Barranco Funeral Home, 495 Ritchie Hwy., Severna Park.
A memorial service will be held 2 p.m. March 29 at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis, with internment at Arlington National Cemetery on April 2, his parents said.
Reuters contributed to this story.