EDEN — When Brent Taylor was shot and killed while serving in Afghanistan, he wasn’t the only casualty.
Jessie Brown, then a U.S. Army private and now a specialist, was grazed by a bullet. It was only a minor wound and he’s since recovered, but the incident, notably the death of Taylor, had an impact.
Now Brown has come to Weber County to take part in North Ogden Flag Week activities, timed in connection with the anniversary of Taylor’s death on Nov. 3, 2018, and meant to honor Taylor and other military veterans, past and present. He visited Taylor’s family to pay his respects, but has a more personal motivation as well.
“Some personal closure as well would help,” Brown said in a phone interview from the Powder Mountain ski resort, where he’s staying during his visit.
He was to help with the unfurling on Saturday of The Major, a gigantic U.S. flag that was to be hung across Cold Water Canyon east of North Ogden. He was also to attend a program to honor military veterans on Sunday at North Ogden’s Barker Park amphitheater.
He’s restricted from divulging details of the Nov. 3, 2018, incident that led to Taylor’s death. Taylor was on leave as North Ogden mayor and nearing the end of a yearlong deployment with the Utah Army National Guard when officials say a rogue member of the Afghani special forces contingent he was helping train turned on him and killed him.
But Brown, 20, now stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado, near Colorado Springs and from Morehead, Kentucky, offered praise for Taylor, describing him as a bridge builder. Brown was on a six-month deployment to Afghanistan that overlapped with Taylor’s time there.
“His goal was to better relations with people,” Brown said. “There wasn’t anybody who met him who ever had a problem with him... Really an amazing dude.”
Brown, whose role was security, received a Purple Heart in connection with the incident. The incident remains seared in his mind as well as some of his encounters with Taylor, a major in the National Guard, and some of the advice he took from him during their time together in Afghanistan.
“The only limitations are what you set for yourself,” Brown said.
In a separate interview, Taylor’s widow Jennie Taylor lauded Brown’s service. “We want him to come here and feel that we honor him just as much as we honor Brent,” she said.
Brown arrived in Weber County on Friday and is to leave on Monday.