The call had come again. Brent Taylor, the mayor of North Ogden and a major in the Utah National Guard, would be going to Afghanistan for his fourth deployment.
He told his constituents about it on Facebook in January, leaning into the camera to explain that he had been called to serve his country “whenever and however I can” and that he would be gone for a year, as part of a team helping to train an Afghan Army commando battalion. “Service is really what leadership is all about,” he told them.
He said goodbye to his wife, Jennie, and their seven children, and turned over his municipal duties to his friend Brent Chugg. “You need to keep safe,” Mr. Chugg told him. “I will,” Major Taylor replied.
He did not make it home. Major Taylor, 39, was killed on Saturday in an insider attack, apparently by one of the people he was there to help.
Ms. Taylor now faces the task of raising the couple’s children: Megan, 13; Lincoln, 11; Alex, 9; Jacob 7; Ellie, 5; Jonathan, 2; and Caroline, 11 months.
One more clip:
In what turned out to be his final public post, on Oct. 28, he tapped out a message about the recent Afghan election.
“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,” he wrote. “Many American, NATO allies, and Afghan troops have died to make moments like this possible.”
Then he turned to his own country.
“As the USA gets ready to vote in our own election next week, I hope everyone back home exercises their precious right to vote,” he 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.”
He concluded: “God Bless America. 🇺🇲👊🏻”
This is another hard truth we have to face:
Can you, or anyone in high office, spare some thoughts on what kind of achievable settlement in Afghanistan could possibly justify more sacrifices like his? https://t.co/Cbrc0ZyjEg
— Michael Brendan Dougherty (@michaelbd) November 4, 2018
But so is this letter an Afghan colleague of Maj. Taylor’s sent to his widow:
The tragedy of it all. All of it. For seventeen years we have been in that country, and it has defeated us as it defeated the British and the Russians before us. And when we finally leave for good — as we will, because we now know that we can’t win there — we will leave behind good men like this Afghan pilot. Because war is nothing but tragic.