PO1 David Martin Tapper
  • 32 years old
  • Date of birth: Aug 16, 1971
  • Date of passing: Aug 20, 2003
Let the memory of David be with us forever

Often called upon to conduct the most harrowing missions, Tapper took part in the April rescue of wounded POW Jessica Lynch, then helped recover the bodies of nine American soldiers buried near the Iraqi hospital where she was held, according to friends and the Tapper family.

After serving in Iraq for two months, Tapper, a father of four, returned to Camden County for a visit during a six-week leave in early summer. Tapper, who had spent most of his 13-year naval career as a SEAL, was reluctant to return to the war zone.

"He said it was too soon," said a sister, who spoke for the family. "He wanted to stay with his children and spend more time with his family in Atco."

But, duty called again last month, this time sending him to Afghanistan, where an increasingly overlooked and vastly dangerous mission to rout the Taliban and al-Qaeda terrorists grinds on.

Tapper, 32, died there Wednesday while conducting combat operations in a lawless province near the Pakistani border - an area where the military believes the terrorists are operating.

Friends here said Tapper was shot in the back during an ambush. He died later at a hospital at Bagram Air Base, the Navy said.

"David fought a good fight and accomplished his mission in life," said the sister, who asked not to be identified by name. "We know that he is in Heaven and it was the Lord's will to take him there."

A Navy spokesman declined to discuss Tapper's unit or its mission in Afghanistan.

Tapper's wife and four children live in Virginia Beach, Va., where his unit was stationed, but he has a large family in the Atco area, where he grew up and graduated from Edgewood High School in 1989.

The youngest of six children - and the only boy - Tapper was extremely close with his mother, Judi, an agent for Weichert Realtors, friends said. One sister died when she was young, they said. Judi Tapper was proud of her son's service, yet devastated by the loss of the family protector.

"We grew up with him protecting his mother and sisters," one sister said. "Then he grew up to protect his country."

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