Utah Guardsman killed in action remembered as someone ‘everybody loved’

MONTICELLO, Utah -- A Utah Guardsman was killed Wednesday in Afghanistan when a building his troop was in exploded.

Since hearing the news, people in his hometown of Monticello have come together to remember the courageous man he was.

Staff Sgt. Aaron Butler was killed in action in Afghanistan Wednesday. For his small hometown of Monticello, it's a big loss.

“He was not a big kid, but for what he was in size, he made up in absolute enthusiasm,” said Paul Mants, Butler’s first sergeant.

And, a big heart. A trait many in town say runs in the family.

“They’re very outgoing, very hardworking, very service oriented,” Neighbor Lacey Vess said of the Butler family. “They’re always out in the community doing whatever they can to help wherever they can.”

Vess lives a few houses down from Staff Sgt. Butler’s parents. She and other neighbors say the Butlers are wonderful people.

“They always have a friendly smile and a nice wave to you,” she said. “Good for a hug, too, any time.”

For many people in this tight-knit community, knowing Butler’s name will be the fifth etched into the memorial here under "War on Terror" is hard.

“Just being so blessed to live here in such a peaceful place, it’s almost like you forget that that’s really going on over there until something like this happens,” Vess said.

But remembering Butler for the amazing person and soldier he was makes things a little easier.

“He was a kid everybody loved,” Mants said. “And it was hard not to love him. He was enthusiastic and smiled, and if we had a mission and they were tired and came back from the mission and I had to give them another order to go out on another mission, he’d just smile and take it, while other people would be kicking dirt.”

Funeral services are tentatively planned for Saturday, August 26 in the Monticello LDS Stake Center. Interment will follow in the local cemetery.

Gov. Gary Herbert has stated that flags across Utah will be lowered to half-staff on the day of Butler’s funeral.