North Ogden mayor and Utah National Guard Maj. Brent Taylor was killed in Afghanistan on Nov. 3.
Taylor was a husband and father to seven children on his fourth deployment, this time to Afghanistan. His death sent a shockwave of grief through the Ogden community that became national news.
Gov. Gary R. Herbert spoke about Major Taylor at a news conference at the Utah National Guard headquarters, calling him, “the personification of love of God, family and country.”
In Afghanistan, Taylor trained soldiers of an Afghan Army commando battalion. Before his deployment in January, Taylor posted to Facebook that he was eager to serve his county.
“Service is really what leadership is all about,” Taylor wrote.
There are currently 14,000 American troops in Afghanistan. Their main role is to advise and train Afghan forces, not fight the Taliban themselves.
The Americans placed in these training roles leave themselves vulnerable to insider attacks, as they are constantly surrounded by armed Afghans. Insider attacks account for nearly half of the American combat deaths in Afghanistan this year, including Taylor’s.
Major Taylor remained active on Facebook while he was deployed, wanting to remain connected to his constituents. He alerted the community about events in Afghanistan. On Oct. 28, Taylor posted his final message, encouraging Americans to exercise their right to vote.
“It was beautiful to see over 4 million Afghan men and women brave threats and deadly attacks to vote in Afghanistan’s first parliamentary elections in eight years,” Taylor wrote on Facebook. “Many American and Afghan troops have died to make moments like this possible. As the USA gets ready to vote in our own election, I hope that we all remember that we have far more as Americans that unites us than divides us.”
Taylor was killed by a member of the same forces whose bravery he praised. However, after Taylor’s death, an Afghan pilot wrote to Taylor’s family, asking them not to see the attack as a representative of Afghan sentiments toward Americans.
“The one who shot him represents evil and violence,” Abdul Rahman Rahmani wrote. “On behalf of my family and Brent’s friends here in the Special Mission Wing, we pledge to continue to work hard until the end, the day when peace will return to our country and violence and hatred no longer claim the lives of both of our countrymen.”
As Major Taylor’s body was returned to the U.S. on Nov. 4, Jennie Taylor offered a statement about her husband.
“Brent may have died on Afghan soil, but he died for the success of freedom and democracy in both of our countries,” Taylor said. “It seems only fitting that Brent has come home to U.S. soil in a flag-draped casket on our election day.”
Though she said her heart is shattered by Brent’s death, she hopes this will help citizens across the country recognize the selflessness shown by servicemen everywhere.
“The price of freedom surely feels incredibly high to all those of us who know and love our individual soldier,” she said. “But the value of freedom is immeasurable to all those who know and love America and all that she represents.”