Post office may be named to honor Marine

Residents honored the sacrifice of Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua Taylor by hanging American flags and lining the streets when his body was brought back to Marietta following his death in a March training exercise.

Now, an ongoing tribute is being considered after Congressman Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, introduced legislation Tuesday to rename the 101-year-old Marietta Post Office building on Front Street the Lance Corporal Joshua C. Taylor Memorial Post Office Building.

“Although there is no way we can repay the debt we owe Josh and the other heroes we lost, this is a small way the Marietta community can remember the courage and sacrifice of one of their own,” said Johnson, a Marietta resident, in a news release Tuesday. “Josh gave his life for his country, and renaming his hometown post office in his name honors this exceptional young man and his selfless dedication to the country he loved.”

Taylor’s mother, Jennifer Collins of Marietta, said she was shocked when Johnson contacted her about the idea a month ago.

“We’re very excited about that,” she said. “Our family just really appreciates all of his efforts to honor Joshua’s memory.”

Taylor and six other members of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force died March 18 when a mortar shell exploded while they were training at the Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada. The 2010 Marietta High School graduate was preparing for his third overseas deployment, having previously served tours in Afghanistan and Kuwait.

If the legislation passes, the post office would bear Taylor’s name in all references to the facility in federal documentation. A plaque would also be placed at the building, said David Van Allen, spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service in Ohio.

Collins said naming the post office is a fitting tribute to her son, given his love for the city.

“Joshua loved Marietta and truly looked forward to making his home here,” she said. “He truly honored our community with his service. He was just a great representative of our community and a great human being.”

Customers at the post office on Tuesday supported naming the post office for Taylor.

“All it’s ever been called was the Marietta Post Office, so if they want to change it to honor a hero like that, why not?” said Dave Ackerman, 81, of Marietta.

A couple people thought a post office seemed an unusual choice to honor a fallen soldier, but that didn’t mean they were against the move.

“I think that might be a great idea,” said Kimberly Shomo, 56, of Marietta. “I stand behind this as a parent.”

Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews said the idea gives him pause, but not because he doesn’t think Taylor should be honored. He noted there have been other Marietta residents who died while serving in the military as well and he was hesitant to support recognizing one without honoring them all.

“I love them all dearly, but where do you stop and where do you start?” said Matthews, a former Marine.

Matthews pointed to two examples – Air Force Capt. Doug Seeley, shot down over Southeast Asia in 1971 during the Vietnam War, and Army Spc. Allen Nolan, who died of injuries sustained in a missile attack in Iraq in 2004.

A street at the Walmart shopping center off Pike Street in Marietta was named in honor of Seeley, while a portion of Ohio 676 has been proposed to be named after Nolan.

In 2011, a portion of Ohio 7 from Lower Newport to the Monroe County line was named the First Lt. Christopher Rutherford Memorial Highway after the Frontier High School graduate died in 2007 after a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle in Iraq. A street in Newport and a fitness center at Frontier High School were also named in his honor.