Utah mayor who died train­ing troops ‘truly loved’ Afghans

San Antonio Express-News (Sunday) - - Nation | World -

OG­DEN, Utah — A Utah mayor killed while serv­ing in the Na­tional Guard in Afghanistan had “loved the Afghan peo­ple” and was a man of con­vic­tion, con­fi­dence and com­pas­sion, fam­ily and mil­i­tary lead­ers said at a pub­lic funeral Satur­day.

Brent Tay­lor, 39, was a deeply pa­tri­otic man who was com­mit­ted to train­ing com­man­dos as part of an ef­fort to build the ca­pac­ity of the Afghan na­tional army, Utah Army Na­tional Guard Maj. Gen. Jef­fer­son Bur­ton said at the ser­vice in­side an events cen­ter in the north­ern Utah city of Og­den.

Tay­lor was killed Nov. 3 in an at­tack by one of the Afghan com­man­dos he was train­ing, mil­i­tary of­fi­cials said.

“He was com­pletely com­mit­ted to go­ing and do­ing this job,” Bur­ton said. “He truly loved the Afghan peo­ple and wanted to help them so they could build ca­pac­ity in them­selves and as a na­tion to be able to stand on their own.”

Tay­lor’s cas­ket was draped in an Amer­i­can flag and sat in front of a stage where his fa­ther, a lo­cal leader with The Church of Je­sus Christ of Lat­ter-day Saints, led the ser­vices.

The choir sang “Amer­ica the Beau­ti­ful” as the open­ing hymn and “Born to be a Sol­dier” to close in a nod to the ser­vice’s fo­cus on Tay­lor’s love of coun­try and com­mit­ment to sac­ri­fice.

His wife, Jen­nie, didn’t speak but has pre­vi­ously said the fam­ily felt “heartache but no re­gret” be­cause Tay­lor was try­ing to bring free­dom to oth­ers.

Be­sides his wife, Tay­lor leaves be­hind their seven chil­dren, rang­ing from 11 months to 13 years old.

The me­mo­rial ser­vice capped off sev­eral days of events to honor Tay­lor.

Hun­dreds of sol­diers saluted Tay­lor’s flag-cov­ered cas­ket Wednes­day as his re­mains re­turned to a Na­tional Guard base in Salt Lake City. A cou­ple hun­dred mo­tor­cy­cle riders car­ry­ing Amer­i­can flags fol­lowed the hearse north to Tay­lor’s home­town of North Og­den in a pro­ces­sion.

On Fri­day, a Na­tional Guard mem­ber stood guard over his cas­ket dur­ing an all­night vigil at a mor­tu­ary.

Tay­lor had taken year­long leave of ab­sence as the mayor of North Og­den to go on his sec­ond tour to Afghanistan. Tay­lor, a mil­i­tary in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer with Joint Force Head­quar­ters, also had served two tours in Iraq.

Younger brother Derek Tay­lor said Brent had a knack for bridg­ing gaps and find­ing res­o­lu­tions among peo­ple with dif­fer­ent views — a tal­ent he de­vel­oped at the fam­ily home where fights and dis­agree­ments were fre­quent. He said his brother al­ways ended their phone con­ver­sa­tions with “Love ya, Derek.”

He said his brother was blessed with “three Cs,” — com­mit­ment, con­fi­dence and com­pas­sion — and those were the driv­ing force be­hind ev­ery­thing he ac­com­plished.

“As a brother, Brent was as good as they come,” Derek Tay­lor said. “He was the best of all of us.”

Toby Mileski, a friend and for­mer mayor of Pleas­ant View, a town neigh­bor­ing North Og­den, re­mem­bered Tay­lor for his love of eat­ing, his pen­chant for al­ways run­ning late and his good sense of hu­mor.

“We were al­ways laugh­ing — al­ways — and that’s one thing I’m re­ally go­ing to miss,” Mileski said, later adding, “Jen­nie, kids, your dad was a war­rior, a pa­triot and a su­per per­son. I am hon­ored and blessed have been able to call him my best friend.”

Fran­cisco Kjolseth / As­so­ci­ated Press

Jen­nie Tay­lor fol­lows the cas­ket of her hus­band, Maj. Brent R. Tay­lor, on Satur­day. Tay­lor, the mayor of North Og­den, Utah, was slain in Afghanistan.

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