North Ogden is rallying this week around its late Mayor Brent Taylor, days after learning that the Utah National Guard major was killed in action while on a military deployment in Afghanistan.
Taylor, 39, was killed in what’s being called “an apparent insider attack” while training Afghan forces at a Kabul training center. Another soldier was wounded in the small-arms attack, and the perpetrator was killed by other members of the Afghan Defense and Security Forces.
Taylor’s yearlong deployment was coming to an end, and he was expected to be back home in Utah and presiding over North Ogden City Council meetings in January.
Brent Chugg came out of retirement to serve as North Ogden’s mayor while Taylor was in Afghanistan. On Monday evening, the city council was expected to discuss next steps, including how to honor a favorite son’s memory.
“It’s been a tough weekend,” said Chugg, who called Taylor a good friend and a leader who had a positive approach to getting things done.
Taylor’s widow and mother of his seven children, Jennie Taylor, arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Monday to meet her husband’s body. Chugg said the community has come together to support Taylor’s family, even offering to mow the lawn and help with the children.
Family spokeswoman Kristy Pack Taylor said students at 13-year-old Megan Taylor’s junior high school wore yellow ribbons Monday to show their support.
“Everyone has been rallying together around to support Jennie and her kids and Brent’s parents,” said Pack, who is Jennie Taylor’s sister. “All of these people have donated to their America First account or GoFundMe. It’s people giving $10 and $20 — people we don’t even know — and it’s just so touching.”
She added: “We have amazing communication in our community and our church that, when something terrible or awful happens and a need arises, we can get help there fast.”
The family has issued a public statement.
“Brent’s life impacted so many of us in remarkable ways, and we are grateful for the expressions of gratitude and sympathy that we have received,” it reads. “We are especially grateful for the love and support shown to Brent’s grieving children.
“As one of many, many military families to give the ultimate sacrifice, we also want to express our love for this great nation and the pride that we feel knowing that Brent gave his life in service to his country — the country he and Jennie both love so much.”
Pack said Taylor’s body could arrive in Utah as soon as Wednesday or Thursday. His family hopes to lay him to rest on Saturday.
Taylor, whose five brothers also have served in the military, had deployed twice to Iraq, where he earned the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He also served a previous tour in Afghanistan.