By Alyssa Karas The Oregonian
PORTLAND, Ore. — U.S. Marine Sgt. Ian M. Tawney always maintained close ties to his Dallas roots, but even from an early age, he loved to explore.
Tawney’s strong sense of independence manifested itself when he organized a yearlong trip to Argentina at age 15. And his enthusiasm for life became evident when he returned, spouting fluent Spanish.
“As a very young child, he had a very strong sense of self and was very decisive about what he wanted to do with his life,” said his mother, Theda Tawney on Monday.
So when Tawney, 25, joined the Marines five years ago, his work ethic quickly distinguished him, and he won several awards.
But his life was cut short Saturday when he was conducting combat operations and killed when an improvised explosive device blew up in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan.
Friends and family remember Tawney as a devoted husband, a loyal friend and an avid outdoorsman.
“It’s hard when you’ve lost somebody and you try to define who they were,” said his father, John Tawney.
His family was in Dover, Del., on Monday, awaiting the arrival of Tawney’s body.
Tawney was soon to be a father himself. His wife Ashley is expecting a baby girl in January.
“He was honored to be a member of the Marine Corps,” said his father. Among Tawney’s numerous awards are the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, Iraq Campaign Medal and Navy Unit Commendation.
“Even though he didn’t like to call attention to himself, he was a natural leader,” said his mother. Tawney previously fought in Iraq in 2007. He served with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force from Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Tawney is the 10th Marine from his battalion to be killed in 10 days. Lance Cpl. Joseph Rodewald of Albany also served in Tawney’s battalion and was killed Oct. 13 by a roadside bomb. Tawney is the 26th person in Oregon to die in the Afghanistan conflict.
Tawney was a top student in squad leader school, and he graduated as the honor man of his class, his father said. He had wanted to make the Marines his career.
“He just knew what he wanted in his life, and he went for it,” his mother said. “He was a man of great integrity.”
His wife described him as outgoing and full of life. He loved hunting, snowboarding and riding motorcycles.
“He loved to laugh,” Ashley Tawney said. The two met in preschool and stayed friends throughout high school. Finally, when both of them were working at a retirement facility, they began dating. Tawney was excited about the arrival of their daughter.
“It’s going to be a real blessing to have a part of him through her,” Theda Tawney said.
In addition to his parents and his wife, Tawney is survived by brothers Shayne Chandler and Jacob Tawney , sisters Stacy Barham , Karin Lamberton and Karla Cowan , and grandmothers Leona Smith and Kathryn Tawney. Funeral arrangements are pending.
Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com