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Utah families who lost sons in combat in Afghanistan react to Pres. Trump’s address

SALT LAKE CITY - President Trump signaled the beginning of a more aggressive approach to the war in Afghanistan Monday.

“I’m not going to say when we are going to attack, but attack we will,” the President said during a prime time address from Fort Myer, Virginia.  “The men and women who serve our nation in combat deserve a plan for victory.  They deserve the tools they need and the trust they have earned to fight and to win.”

The message carries particular weight for two Utah families.  Both lost sons in combat in Afghanistan.

“Our loss is painful and agonizing, but it will be even worse for the nation if we don’t stand up and take steps to stop the spread of terrorism,” Randy Butler said.

His son, Sergeant Aaron Butler, was killed in Afghanistan last week.  Eleven other soldiers were injured in the same attack, eight of those were from Utah.  Three originally listed in critical condition have been upgraded to serious.  All are expected to survive.

“Aaron was passionate about his patriotism.  It ran deep and was an integral part of who he was.  He was willing to defend the country against terrorism, at the point of greatest risk, in order to defend freedom, liberty and our blessings. Aaron died doing what he truly believed in.  It was what he wanted to do,” Randy Butler said.

The fresh pain the Butler family is feeling, is a pain the Towse family has endured for four years.  Specialist Cody Towse, from Elk Ridge, was killed in an explosion in Afghanistan.

“If you would have asked me right after my son died, in fact I told people, we need to get everybody out of there.  They don’t belong over there.  Those guys are just getting killed for nothing,” Jim Towse said.

But over time, Jim’s perspective has changed.  After talking with the soldiers who were there when his son was killed, he began to change his opinion.  Now, he simply wants the soldiers on the ground to have the tools and the rules of engagement to get the job done.

“We just need to let them do what they are trained to do and just let them go in and take care of business,” Towse said.

He supports the President’s call for more aggressive action in Afghanistan, hoping it will lead to the victory his son never got to see.

“I’m proud as hell of my son, for what he did and the way he served his country,” Towse said.

The full statement from the Butler family following President Trump’s speech is below:

“Aaron believed that if military leaders thought changes in our strategy would increase the efficiency of U.S. operations in Afghanistan, he would be all for it, even if it required additional sacrifice.

“Our loss is painful and agonizing, but it will be even worse for the nation if we don’t stand up and take steps to stop the spread of terrorism.  Aaron felt this way and he sealed this belief with his life.  We support our son and the cause for which he died.

“Aaron was passionate about his patriotism.  It ran deep and was an integral part of who he was.  He was willing to defend the country against terrorism, at the point of greatest risk, in order to defend freedom, liberty and our blessings.

“Aaron died doing what he truly believed in.  It was what he wanted to do.”

Randy and Laura Butler