HEROES OF KABUL: Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover handed out ammo to his men despite facing mortal injuries
This article is part of a Fox News Digital series examining the consequences of the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan. It has been updated with new quotes and information as Taylor Hoover’s loved ones remember the Marine two years after he was killed while assisting with the evacuation.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Staff Sgt. Darin Taylor Hoover was dying from his injuries. He still managed to reach in his vest and hand out ammo to his fellow Marines.
The staff sergeant, who went by his middle name, was determined for them to stay in the fight. The act exemplified who Taylor was, both as a person and as a Marine, his parents said.
“He cared about his men more than he did himself,” Taylor’s father, Darin Hoover, told Fox News. “If that isn’t the definition of a true warrior, I don’t know what is.”
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Staff Sgt. Taylor Hoover, 31, was one of the 13 U.S. service members killed in the August 2021 suicide bombing at the Kabul airport. (Courtesy: Kelly Barnett)
“Everything was about his men,” Darin said.
Taylor, 31, ultimately succumbed to his injuries. He was the oldest of the 13 U.S. service members killed by a suicide bomber at Hamid Karzai International Airport on Aug. 26, 2021, during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. The blast also killed at least 170 Afghan civilians and injured more than 150 others.
Taylor, who served for 11 years, would have made the same sacrifice again if it meant saving his men, Darin told Fox News.
“He’s got the heart of a lion, and he really is fiercely protective,” Darin said.
Two years later, Taylor’s parents have continued to pay tribute to him by pushing for more information about their only son’s death. They’re demanding accountability from the Biden administration, arguing that government officials’ decisions led to the 13 U.S. service members’ deaths.
“Our family will never stop fighting for justice and the truth for Taylor and the other 12,” Barnett told Fox News.
A few weeks before the anniversary of the Kabul airport explosion, Republican Rep. Darrell Issa held a congressional forum with the families of the service members killed in the blast. Barnett sobbed as she described her grief and anger at President Biden and his administration, casting blame for the chaos that led up to her son’s death.
“We were told lies, given incomplete reports, incorrect reports, total disrespect,” Barnett said.
Darin agreed. He felt the Biden administration seeming satisfied with the Afghanistan withdrawal, a position he called “disgusting” and “ignorant.” He accused the administration of immediately halting investigations into what he considered the failures of a hasty troop.
“Anything coming from the administration was all shut down. We have had nothing for the last two years,” Darin told Fox News’ Martha MacCallum after the Issa forum. “My anger is directed at them, at the State Department, the [Department of Defense], the administration.”
“I want answers,” he continued. “I want accountability. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again.”
Neither the White House nor the Pentagon immediately responded to requests for comment, but the president did release a general statement on the second anniversary of the Kabul airport attack.
“We will forever honor the memory of the 13 service members who were stolen far too soon from their families, loved ones, and brothers- and sisters-in-arms, while performing a noble mission on behalf of our nation,” Biden said. “We can never repay the incredible sacrifice of any of the 2,461 U.S. service members who lost their lives over two decades of war in Afghanistan or the 20,744 who were wounded. But we will never fail to honor our sacred obligation to our service members and veterans, as well as their families, caregivers, and survivors.”
Taylor, left, strove to improve the Marines under his command. (Courtesy: Kelly Barnett)
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‘Live for me, not without me’
Taylor was about 6 years old when he started playing with toy military figurines—always Marines, his mother, Kelly Barnett, emphasized.
“He was drawn to the Marines because it was a brotherhood,” she told Fox News.
Taylor, who grew up in Utah, was only 11 when terrorists attacked the country on Sept. 11, 2001. But it made a significant impact on his life path, his parents said.
“I think in his mind it solidified what he was gonna do,” Darin told Fox News.
Taylor sported a bracelet in memorial of 9/11 throughout his career. Barnett has since inherited that item, which the Marine was wearing when he was killed.
Taylor puts his arms around his mom and sisters in Utah. (Courtesy: Kelly Barnett)
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As a staff sergeant, Taylor strove to help his men to improve and found victory in their achievements.
“He wanted them to be even better than him,” Barnett said. “That’s a true leader. That’s my son.”
“He didn’t want to be in the spotlight ever,” she added. “He celebrated in others’ success.”
Still, Taylor would use his weekend passes to spend time with his family.
His fellow Marines “would make fun of him because he was cool about hanging out with his mom and his sisters,” Barnett said. “He didn’t want to go out drinking and be with the boys.”
“His number one thing was family,” she continued.
Taylor was on his third tour in Afghanistan when he was killed. He drafted a letter to his mother before leaving in case he died while on deployment.
“‘I want you to live for me, not without me,'” Barnett said Taylor wrote.
Darin Hoover and Kelly Barnett place their hands over their hearts at the wreath ceremony for Taylor at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery on Aug. 26, 2022. (Fox News Digital)
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“That’s what I plan on doing,” she said. “I’m going to keep moving, and I’m going to keep his name out there, keep screaming it. That’s my mission.”
Barnett told Fox News that if her son were alive, she “would run up to him and kiss him all over his face.”
Darin said he would tell Taylor “I loved him and how proud I was of him. He built the legacy that he is.”
During the Afghanistan evacuation, Taylor imagined seeing his family in the sea of Afghans desperate to escape the Taliban.
“He saw his sisters and his mom in the crowd, and he couldn’t stand it,” Barnett said.
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Taylor, unknowingly carrying out his final mission, was determined to save as many lives as possible. Shortly before the ISIS-K terrorist’s bomb detonated, the staff sergeant helped lead a group to safety.
That family, the Kakaies, successfully escaped the grip of Taliban rule as a result. Taylor’s photo hangs on their wall in honor of his sacrifice, the fallen Marine’s parents told Fox News.
“He wanted them to have a chance at a better life,” Barnett said.
Megan Myers is an associate producer/writer with Fox News Digital Originals.