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Omar Sobhani, Reuters, File

Utah military families who lost loved ones in Afghanistan react to withdrawal plan

By Alex Cabrero, KSL TV | Posted - Apr. 14, 2021 at 9:49 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY — Since American troops arrived in Afghanistan, roughly 2,400 have died in the country, including 25 Utahns. Many of those military families said President Joe Biden's plan to remove troops on the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks brought mixed emotions.

Jennie Taylor has never shied away from speaking about how she feels, especially when it comes to military matters in Afghanistan, where her husband, Major Brent Taylor, died during his 4th deployment in 2018.

When President Biden made his announcement Wednesday, she was conflicted.

"My initial reaction, I'm not going to lie, is we've heard this before and we're still there," said Taylor. "So, I don't know if it's the boy who cried wolf in me thinking, okay, are we really going to leave this time?"

If all American troops will be pulled out, she's glad for them and their families.

"Nobody wants peace on Earth more than somebody who has buried a soldier," she said. "And at the time, my husband and so many other service members that went to war, went to war because they knew some things are worth dying for."

However, she said she's also worried about who will move into the region when America leaves.

"We've taken out some really high-ranking leadership in these terrorist groups and guess what? They keep going," said Taylor.

Cody Towse believed in helping the Afghan people, his father said.

The Elk Ridge Army Specialist died there in 2013.

Elk Ridge Army Specialist Cody Towse died in Afghanistan in 2013.
Elk Ridge Army Specialist Cody Towse died in Afghanistan in 2013. (Photo: KSL TV)

"Cody just loved the Afghan people and he was really proud to be a part of protecting them," said his father, Jim Towse.

With America now planning on moving all troops out of Afghanistan, Towse was glad other families wouldn't know what it felt like to lose a loved one.

"I feel relieved for the families of the soldiers that will be spared from the agony our family and thousands of families have gone through," he said.

Like many military families, however, he's worried for the people of Afghanistan.

Jodi Steinfeldt's nephew, Jordan Byrd from Grantsville, was killed there in 2010. He was a medic helping another soldier when he died.

Hearing President Biden's announcement caused Steinfeldt to think about Afghanistan.

"It will always be a place for us because it's where he died," she said.

She expressed concern, however, about the Taliban and other terrorist organizations who may try to re-establish operations in the region when America leaves.

"We're happy that the soldiers get to go home to their families being so far away," said Steinfeldt. "But the other point is, I'm worried about everything we've done over there and what will happen to the people there that have been thankful for us being there."

Grantsville native Jordan Byrd was serving as a medic when he was killed in Afghanistan in 2010.
Grantsville native Jordan Byrd was serving as a medic when he was killed in Afghanistan in 2010. (Photo: KSL TV)

There isn't an easy answer.

It's even more difficult for families who lost loved ones there.

They agreed it has been a long time and America should leave at some point, but it's tough knowing exactly when that time is.

"The question comes up a lot, if we withdraw, if things fall apart, if the world goes this way or that way, will my husband's death have been in vain? No. Unequivocally no," said Taylor. "No matter the outcome of this war, no matter the outcome of politics, no matter how awful the world continues to get because it does, my husband Brent Taylor never will have died in vain."

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Alex Cabrero

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