The Wild family has always been involved in sports. From playing, to coaching, to cheering for their favorite teams all the time.
Athletics has always been their second language. Now it’s their way to speak to the one family member who is no longer with them.
“Taylor was a high school athlete. Good kid. He was training for a third deployment to Afghanistan and he was killed in a mortar explosion,” said Taylor’s mother Betz.
Marine Lance Cpl. William “Taylor” Wild, IV died on March 19, 2013 during a military training accident at Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada. He was only 21 years old.
“He was like my best friend, said younger brother Griffin. “He was always my role model. He and I were always playing together growing up.”
Before Taylor was in the Marines he was a star pitcher for Severna Park High School, class of 2010. His love for sports extended way past the mound.
“He was a fan, a huge fan,” said his mom. “Capitals games, Orioles games, Ravens games. He had an Oriole tattoo on one bicep. It was the Oriole bird.”
After Taylor’s death, the Wilds found out about the TAPS organization. TAPS, short for Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, is a national non-profit that provides support to families that have lost a loved one while serving in the military.
“It’s been a good source of finding other people that are in the same situation we are, other people to talk to,” said Betz.
Through the efforts of TAPS, the Wilds have been able to honor Taylor by attending various Baltimore and Washington sporting events, going to Capitals practices and sometimes even meeting the players.
“Just to be able to hear [about] some of the heroes that have fought and fallen for us, the families have been so much fun to be around,” said Capitals defenseman Nate Schmidt.
For the sixth consecutive season the Capitals, along with TAPS, have launched the Courage Caps campaign. Selling special hats and T-shirts with 100 percent of the proceeds going directly to help grieving military families. People like Betz and Griffin Wild.
A teddy-bear made from Taylor’s uniform is one way they remember their son and big brother. Another way is by doing what he would have loved to do, going where he would have loved to go.
“Sometimes when we get to come to things like this it’s like I feel like I carry him with me,” said an emotional Betz. “So it’s like a way of bringing him with me.”
For more information on TAPS, visit its website.