MONTECLLO, Utah, Aug. 17, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — Aaron Butler of Monticello, a Special Forces soldier and member of the Utah National Guards, was the Utah man killed Wednesday in an explosion in Afghanistan, family members have confirmed.
Butler, 27, died as his unit was clearing a booby-trapped building in eastern Afghanistan as part of the effort to fight members of the Islamic State. Eleven others were injured, including eight from Utah.
Butler’s family released a statement:
“In a life that was all too brief, our dear son and brother made the ultimate sacrifice for his country. While we are heartbroken to become a Gold Star family, we honor Aaron’s service and sacrifice.
“Aaron was a strength to us, an inspiration to those around him, and a joy to have in our family.”
According to information from the San Juan Record, Aaron Butler, who would have turned 28 on Aug. 27, was a four-time high school state wrestling champion, and graduated from Monticello High School in 2008.
Butler served a mission in Ghana for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 2009 to 2011.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday morning that said the names of those killed and injured cannot officially be released until all their families have been notified and 24 hours have passed since the incident, in keeping with Department of Defense protocol.
“I will spend the rest of the day in discussion, talking with the families,” Herbert said, prior to the Butler family’s announcement. “I will let them know of our concern and condolences. This is a tragedy for them, a tragedy for all of us. I will be reaching out to them today, letting them know our thoughts and prayers are with them.”
The injured have been evacuated to Germany to be flown to Walter Reed Military Hospital in Maryland for treatment.
Utah victims with lesser injuries will be flown home, when they are medically stable, to recover near their families.
Butler’s body will be flown to Dover, Delaware, in keeping with protocol, then be will flown to Utah. Funeral services are pending, the family statement said.
“The war on terror is with us,” Herbert said, noting Utah troops had not had a fatality since 2010. “The war on terror continues, and our men and women are being put in harms way.”
Officials said earlier that 133 Utah National Guard members serve in Afghanistan.
“My heart aches for the loss and sacrifice of our members and their families,” said Maj. Gen. Jefferson Burton, adjutant general of the Utah National Guard, in a statement released Wednesday evening.
“I know that what we do is dangerous and important work for our country’s defense, but this realization does little to console me during times of loss such as this.”
To hear Herbert’s full remarks, click on the video player below.