Mayor of Utah city killed in apparent insider attack in Afghanistan

Washington Post

Brent Taylor, the mayor of North Ogden, Utah, and a father of seven, was killed in action Saturday while serving in Afghanistan as a member of the Army National Guard, officials confirmed.

Taylor was killed in an apparent insider attack after a member of the Afghan security forces opened fire at a base in Kabul where foreign troops provide training to Afghan forces. The attack wounded another U.S. service member.

News of Taylor's death brought shock and grief to a Utah community in which he had served as mayor since 2013 and, before that, as a City Council member.

"I hate this. I'm struggling for words," Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox posted Saturday. "I love Mayor Taylor, his amazing wife Jennie and his 7 sweet kids. Utah weeps for them today. This war has once again cost us the best blood of a generation. We must rally around his family. Thank you for your sacrifice my friend."

In a statement, Gov. Gary R. Herbert, R, said he was heartbroken at the news of Taylor's death.

"(I) feel completely humbled by the service and the ultimate sacrifice offered by this brave and selfless soldier," Herbert wrote. "The entire Herbert family mourns with this soldier's family and we pray that their burdens may be lifted, and that the hearts of all Utahns will reach out to comfort them in their grief."

Herbert said he planned to hold a news conference Sunday afternoon to give additional details.

Taylor announced his deployment to his constituents in early January via Facebook Live, explaining that he had been called to help train Afghan commando units after President Donald Trump had ordered an increase in the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

"There are three great loyalties that have guided my life and everything in it: God, family and country," Taylor said then. "While I am far from perfect in any of these respects, I have given my life to serve all three of these loyalties whenever and however I can. And right now there is a need for my experience and skills to serve in our nation's long-lasting war in Afghanistan."

He anticipated that his deployment would last 12 months and reassured North Ogden citizens that the city would be left in good hands.

Over the past 10 months, Taylor posted periodic updates of his Afghanistan service to Facebook. In September, he celebrated from afar his 15th anniversary with his wife, Jennie Taylor. In their marriage, they had endured five years apart during four of Taylor's deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, he wrote. Earlier that month, he wrote, he had watched his youngest child learn to walk via Skype.

"(Jennie) is truly the center of our home and at the very center of all our lives," Taylor wrote. "I second Winston Churchill, who said: 'My most brilliant achievement was ... to persuade my wife to marry me.' "

In his last Facebook post, dated Oct. 28, Taylor quoted Franklin D. Roosevelt — "In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved" — and spoke with pride about witnessing Afghanistan's first parliamentary elections in eight years, despite threats of violence.

"As the USA gets ready to vote in our own election next week, I hope everyone back home exercises their precious right to vote," Taylor wrote. "And that whether the Republicans or the Democrats win, that we all remember that we have far more as Americans that unites us than divides us. 'United we stand, divided we fall.' God Bless America."

On Twitter, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, called Taylor "a hero to all of us."

"Brent was a hero, a patriot, a wonderful father, and a dear friend," Hatch wrote. "News of his death in Afghanistan is devastating. My prayers and love are with Jennie and his 7 young children. His service will always be remembered."

In less than a day, a GoFundMe set up to help Taylor's family had raised more than $100,000.

The motive for Saturday's shooting — the second insider attack at a base against foreign troops in less than two weeks — was not immediately clear. The Taliban praised Saturday's attack, saying it was conducted by a "sensible" Afghan.

Sayed Salahuddin contributed to this report. This story first appeared in the Washington Post

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