MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – On August 29, 2008, Brian Haugen was called to Fort Whiting in Mobile due to Hurricane Gustav. The next day, his son Taylor passed away from a football injury.
Through his struggle, his unit was by his side.
“Toughest thing I have ever been through, Brian loosing his son, huge impact on the unit,” said Commander Scott Cotney.
Two years later, Taylor’s presence is still evident in the unit’s mantra, “Don’t quit, never give up.” Taylor wrote these words just three days before his death.
“You know, these are really, really fine soldiers. So, to have a 15-year-old person’s motto become something that’s etched in their heart as they move out to do their mission, its really amazing,” said Brian Haugen.
A plaque hangs on the wall at Fort Whiting, also a reminder of Taylor’s spirit.
“Its touching to see them walk past the plaque in the hallway in honor of “T” you know. Some touch it and some reflect on it as they go out to training and its pretty moving,” said Haugen.
“Everybody sees it everyday. We walk past it and to me its an encouragement and it helps me know where i need to go, keep going,” said Adam Yunker.
Later, Haugen saw his son’s legacy live on yet again, this time on the football field.
“I was touched by how many lives he changed just by living,” said South Alabama football player Taylor Noon.
Noon wore Haugen’s jersey number 80 Saturday night in South Alabama’s game.
“He called us and asked early on if he could honor “T” by wearing his number. So, he’s number 80 and I’m going to go watch him play,” said Haugen.
“I probably will never do it to that level, but I’m going to try my best just to continue the legacy he had,” said Noon.
After his death, Taylor’s family established the Taylor Haugen Foundation. It has helped young, underprivledged athletes with scholarships and awards highlighting what Taylor lived in his everyday life: faith, service and athletics.