21-year-old newlywed Minnesotan is 2,000th American to die in Operation Enduring Freedom

Categories: Military
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Baune becomes the 29th Minnesotan to die during Operation Enduring Freedom.
Three months after marrying his high school sweetheart, 21-year-old Taylor Baune is dead.

Baune, a Marine corporal, was killed in combat yesterday in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He was a 2009 graduate of Andover High School.

In March, shortly before shipping off to Afghanistan, Baune married his high school sweetheart, Colleen Crooker. Randy Crooker, Baune's father-in-law, told KARE 11 that Taylor was a "happy-go-lucky guy" who was always smiling and "always lit up the room when he came in."

CNN reports that Baune's death marks a grim milestone: He's the 2,000th American to die in Operation Enduring Freedom, the name for what the Bush administration characterized as the "war on terror" after the September 11 attacks.

The number of Americans who've died in Afghanistan itself totals 1,884, with Operation Enduring Freedom casualties also occurring in Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines, Seychelles, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Yemen.

But for those who knew Taylor personally, the statistics mean nothing compared to the loss of a young man who by all accounts had a promising future ahead of him. Andover Assistant Principal Bob Bursaw, asked about his response to Taylor's death, called it "sad news."

He can say that again.

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