PLYMOUTH — Family members of Spc. Robert Tauteris spoke out about the loss of their loved one at a special press conference that was held at the Plymouth American Legion Wednesday.
Tauteris, 44, known as Bobby to family and friends, was killed last week when the vehicle he was traveling in hit a roadside bomb. Three other soldiers perished and one was wounded in the blast: Spc. Brian Leonhardt, of Merrillville, Sgt. Jonathan Metzger of Indianapolis, and Spc. Christopher Patterson, of Aurora, Ill. The soldiers were members of the Indiana National Guard’s 713 Engineer Company, Valparaiso.
Bobby’s sister Tammy Smith expressed her sorrow that other families were experiencing the same heartbreaking loss as she and her family.
“We are so sorry for the other families that are going through this. They will be in our hearts forever,” she said.
Smith said the family wanted to respect the memory of the man they knew as brother and as father.
“To the world, yes, he was a hero. But to us, he was a brother; and he was a father,” she said.
Smith said that out of all the siblings, Bobby had the kindest nature, laughed easily and just had a way of making everyone feel better.
“He was the gentle soul of the four of us-the quickest to smile, had a sense of humor, and always there to cheer us up,” she said.
Bobby’s brother Tom said his brother did what he needed to do for his country.
“He was a quiet man who loved to fish and camp. He did what he had to do for the US Army.”
Bobby was also a private person, who Smith said was 100 percent dedicated to his children.
“He woke up to his sons and went to bed for his sons,” she said.
Bobby was on his second tour of duty. His son Robert Tauteris III, now 22, was also serving in Afghanistan at the time of the tragedy, having enlisted two years after his father. And it was Robert Tauteris who escorted his father home.
“It was an honor being able to escort my father and the other fallen soldiers home from Afghanistan — it’s something I’ll never forget; and I’m more honored to do that than I have been to do many things in my life,” Tauteris said.
For Tauteris and his brother Matthew, 18, (a student at Oregon-Davis High School), their dad became a hero long before he entered the service.
"He is a hero. And I think what made him who he is, is how much he cared about his children and his family," Tauteris said.
Bobby will always be remembered for the sacrifice he made for his country. But Tauteris is clinging to memories of a father who was everything a dad should be.
"He devoted his life to me and my brother. He always loved to take us fishing, and camping when we were young kids. He stood up as our boy scout leader, from the time we were very young to being too old to be in boy scouts," he said.
Tauteris said for Bobby, being a father was the reason for his existence.
"I can't stress enough how much he cared about me and my brother,” he said. “It was the most important thing to him; it was like his meaning in life was to be a father.”
If he could tell his dad one thing, Tauteris said it would be that he had always been a hero in their eyes
“If I could tell him anything today, I would say that he was a hero before he even served, in our lives,” he said.
Also attending the conference on Wednesday was Bobby’s brother Darryl Minix, son Matthew and Robert III’s wife of eight months, Kayla.
Smith said she wanted to thank everyone for their overwhelming support. She said, “The Army helped us understand and explained to us that he died a hero.”
The body of Spc. Robert Tauteris, Jr. will arrive in North Judson on Saturday and will be escorted through town by the Patriot Guard. Services are set for 1 p.m. Sunday at the Bramen & Bailey Funeral Home, North Judson, with viewing beginning at 10 a.m.
Donations can be made at the funeral home to Matthew Tauteris or Robert Tauteris III. All donations will be given to a charity of their choosing.
The family has requested that the media respect their privacy while they lay their beloved family member to rest.
Correspondent Carol Anders contributed to this story