SALT LAKE CITY -- The parents of a Utah soldier who was killed one month ago in Afghanistan received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star Saturday on behalf of their son.
The posthumous presentation took place during the Governor’s 63rd annual review of the Utah National Guard.
Staff Sergeant Aaron Butler was killed and eleven other Utah Guard members were injured when they were trying to clear a booby-trapped building in Afghanistan on August 26.
“The loss of Sergeant Butler is a heartbreaking reminder of the threat our soldiers face each and every time they are deployed throughout the world,” said Utah Gov. Gary Herbert.
The parents of the fallen soldier said they were touched by the presentation and the opportunity to meet other guard members.
“It was very touching and tender, especially the ones who knew him,” said Laura Butler, Aaron’s mother. “But it’s been a bittersweet day too because of the love and support we have felt from everyone.”
Randy Butler, Aaron’s father, said the awards presentation in front of the entire Utah National Guard made him and his wife feel like they were part of his son’s military family.
“We can understand why Aaron loved his military family so much," he said. "It’s endless what the military family has done and the dignity and respect and they have shown.”
Major General Jefferson Burton said guard members are facing more threats than ever before. He said Aaron Butler was a great example of how to sacrifice and serve.
“He was someone who positioned himself in the front line as all leaders do,” Burton said. “He will forever live in the memories of those he served with. Aaron will never die.”
Governor Herbert is the commander-in-chief of the Utah National Guard. He thanked the nearly 7,000 guard members gathered at the review for responding and handling local and national disasters like the fire in Weber County and Hurricane Harvey in Texas.
“Very few organizations have the ability and the versatility to react so quickly, which is what is expected of National Guard soldiers,” Herbert said.
The Utah National Guard currently has 122 soldiers and 25 airmen serving overseas. The guard is expecting that number will increase soon to handle the numerous global conflicts.