NORTH JUDSON – A hometown hero was laid to rest Sunday. Funeral services for Specialist Robert Tauteris Jr. were held in his home town of North Judson. He and three other members of the 713th Engineer Company out of Valparaiso were killed in Afghanistan on January 6 by a roadside bomb.
To everyone who knew Robert Tauteris Jr., he was simply Bobby. A quiet person who would do anything for anybody. He wasn't concerned with the frills and luxury in life. Bobby had his Chevy Nova, and more importantly his family. But on Sunday, the state of Indiana and the small town of North Judson gave this simple man a hero's tribute.
"For those of you who knew uncle Bobby, you know that first and foremost he was a family man. His boys were his whole world." Tauteris' niece said as she stood in front of a crowd of hundreds inside of the Braman and Baily Funeral Home. "He was also a simple man, no frills, no fuss and usually the quietest one in the group."
According to the people who knew Tauteris, he didn't need words to touch people. It was his kind heart that impacted their lives.
"If you were sad, he could make you smile. If you were upset, and needed to vent, he would lend you an ear. If you just needed to blow off some steam, he would show you a crazy good time out on the town. He was just one of those guys you always wanted to have around. He may have been quiet, but his presence didn't go unnoticed," his niece added.
Tauteris' story is like none other. He joined the military in 2007 when he was nearly 40 years old and was on his second tour in Afghanistan.
But service for Tauteris is a family tradition. His son joined the National Guard two years after his father and was serving in the same unit in Afghanistan with his dad. Tauteris didn't have to go on this last tour to Afghanistan, but volunteered to go on the mission with his son.
"Some deaths seem to also enlarge us and uplift us by showing us the kind of better people we could be, if we're wise enough to take that example," Governor Mitch Daniels said. "Robert Joseph Tauteris, you are all a state could hope for in a citizen."
"He should be remembered as a man's man. A guy who was willing to help out absolutely anybody. Even if it was the last dollar in his pocket he would still give it to you," Specialist Christopher Anderson, who served with Tauteris, said. "He was the nicest guy in the world. Stuff like this just happens to the best of people."
Tauteris was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Governor Daniels and General Umbarger presented the medals to his two sons at the funeral.