Afghan Major to Utah Mayor's Widow: Slain Guardsman Taught Him to Love His Wife as an Equal
An Afghan pilot reached out to the widow of the Ogden, Utah, mayor killed in an insider attack in Afghanistan over the weekend, telling her Maj. Brent Taylor made him a better man.
Taylor, 39, was deployed in January with the Utah National Guard and tasked with training Afghan commandos. Two U.S. service members were shot in Kabul, an insider attack in which the assailant "was immediately killed by other Afghan Forces," according to the NATO Resolute Support mission.
Both Taylor and the unnamed wounded service member, who has since returned to duty, were taken to Bagram Airfield for treatment.
"The death of Maj. Taylor is a loss for his family, his friends, his colleagues, our country and this mission," said Gen. Scott Miller, Resolute Support commanding general, in a statement. "His service here, around the world and at home is an example for us all."
On his Facebook page, Taylor posted photos of the friends he made in Afghanistan and, in his last post Oct. 28, marveled at the bravery of more than 4 million Afghan voters who defied death threats to vote Oct. 20.
"As the USA gets ready to vote in our own election next week, I hope everyone back home exercises their precious right to vote. 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," Taylor wrote.
Taylor and his wife, Jennie, have seven children, ranging from 11 months old to 13 years old.
Maj. Abdul Rahman Rahmani, an Afghan Army Aviation pilot in the Special Mission Wing in Kabul, served with Taylor and sent a letter to Jennie, shared on Twitter, remembering his colleague and friend as "an inspiring man who loved you all."
"I remember him saying, 'Family is not something. It is everything.' You may or may not be aware of some of our cultural differences, but in Afghanistan family is not everything, for many of us, family are treated as property. Here, a woman cannot express herself fully, either inside or outside the house. Here, most families treat children unfairly," he wrote. "Let me admit that, before I met Brent, even I did not think that women and men should be treated equally. Your husband taught me to love my wife Hamida as an equal and treat my children as treasured gifts, to be a better father, to be a better husband, and to be a better man."
Rahmani noted that he has lost eight members of his family, including his father, in war over the past three decades. He has been wounded twice. "However, I will continue to still fight this 'good fight,' in the words of your respectful husband," he wrote. "I am fighting for a great cause, as Brent said, 'You fight for not only the safety of Afghans, but the safety of family back in Utah. It is your fight that keeps us out of fear and out of the reach of global terrorism. We [Americans] don't want another 9/11 to happen in the United States."
Rahmani added that he considers the Taylors' children "as brothers and sisters to my own five children" and asked Jennie that she tell the kids "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 Afghan major continued. "Were he here, I know he would not take any credit for that, but I want you to know it and to hear it from me."
He added that Taylor, "whom I dearly loved," would be first to volunteer for a tough assignment and was a "true patriot."
"He died on our soil but he died for the success of freedom and democracy in both of our countries," Rahmani wrote. "...Please don't think that the violent act that took his life is representative of us or our sentiments towards Americans. On behalf of my family and Brent's friends here in the Special Mission Wing, we pledge to continue to work hard until the end, the day when peace will return to our country and violence and hatred no longer claim the lives of both of our countrymen. I assure you that the one who shot him only represents evil and violence."