Maj. Brent Taylor, a beloved Utah mayor and National Guard officer who deployed to Afghanistan in January, had often voiced the hope that “everyone back home exercises their precious right to vote,” his wife, Jennie Taylor, recalled on Tuesday morning at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
Ms. Taylor traveled to the base with her two oldest sons to witness the return of her husband’s remains, carried off a military aircraft by a team of American soldiers in the early morning hours.
“It seems only fitting that Brent, who in death now represents something so much greater than any of our own individual lives, has come home to U.S. soil in a flag-draped casket on our Election Day,” she said.
Major Taylor, 39, was killed on Saturday in a suspected insider attack while stationed in Kabul. He was on his fourth war-zone deployment — twice to Iraq, and twice to Afghanistan — and had taken a leave of absence from his post as mayor of North Ogden, Utah, to go.
The couple had seven children: Lincoln, 11, and Alex, 9, who were with their mother in Delaware on Tuesday, and Megan, 13; Jacob 7; Ellie, 5; Jonathan, 2; and Caroline, 11 months.
In a letter to Ms. Taylor that was shared on Twitter, an Afghan National Army pilot, Maj. Abdul Rahman Rahmani, credited Major Taylor with changing his views on family and democracy. In the letter, Major Rahmani said he had flown on assignments with Major Taylor and had worked with him to train Afghan forces.
“Please pass my words to your seven children, whom I consider as brothers and sisters to my own five children, Haha, Taiba, Tawab, Aqsa and What,” the letter reads. “Tell them their father was a loving, caring and compassionate man whose life was not just meaningful, it was inspirational. I gained a great deal of knowledge from him and I am a better person for having met him.”
The Pentagon said on Monday that Major Taylor was killed and another service member wounded as a result of an “apparent insider attack,” and that the episode was under investigation. Many Americn casualties in Afghanistan in recent years have come in insider attacks.
Major Taylor’s death has hit hard in North Ogden, the middle-class suburb north of Salt Lake City where he had been mayor since 2013. The family was told that it may take the military as long as 10 days before his body could be handed over to his family. But the city is planning to hold a vigil for him on Saturday just the same, in an amphitheater that Major Taylor had expanded into a community gathering place that staged its first musical over the summer.
Ms. Taylor repeated her husband’s wish that Americans would head to the polls and vote on Tuesday.
“And whether the Republicans or the Democrats win,’’ she said, “I hope that we all remember we have far more as Americans that unites us than divides us.”
Fahim Abed contributed reporting.
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