Community mourns Utah Guardsman killed in combat in Afghanistan

MONTICELLO, Utah -- Staff Sgt. Aaron Butler, a Utah Guardsman killed in combat, was remembered by his community in Monticello Thursday night at a candlelight vigil.

For one hour, a group stood with candles listening to patriotic music, and sharing memories of Butler.

In the Monticello High School wrestling room Thursday afternoon, Butler's former coach, Kent Adair, shared his thoughts.

"He’s a great patriot. I mean, I know a lot of people tried to talk him outta joining, but he wanted to join and he wanted to go over there and he wanted to fight for our country," he said

He said Butler was a kid who would go far. Since Butler was a kid, he was determined to be a four-time state champion in wrestling. After a rocky start, he made his dream a reality his senior year, 2008.

“His first match in high school he got pinned," Adair said. "And so, rather than be deterred at his goal, he worked hard and he fixed things he needed to fix and he was determined enough to do it."

Butler was killed August 16 in Afghanistan when he entered a "booby-trapped" building that exploded. He was with 11 other soldiers who were injured.

Paul Mants, was at the vigil Thursday. He said he was Butler's first sergeant.

"He was my friend," Mants said. "He was one of the top troops I ever had. I guess I gave him a lot of encouragement to go in special forces."

Mants also served in the Marine Corps and Special Forces. He said "when I get a kid this good, this fantastic" he had to encourage Butler to do the same.

Butler's name will be the fifth added to a memorial of local soldiers who gave their lives fighting for their country during the "War on Terror."

“We feel pretty safe here," Adair said. "Nobody wants anything we’ve got, so we’re not gonna get bombed or anything. We feel pretty safe. But when you lose somebody like Aaron, it brings it close to home to you that it’s real. That the violence is real. The hatred’s real.”

Funeral services are tentatively planned for Saturday, August 26 in the Monticello LDS Stake Center. Interment will be in the Monticello Cemetery. In a statement issued Thursday night, Gov. Gary Herbert said flags across the state would be lowered to half-staff on the day of Butler's funeral.