Honoring Utah’s fallen heroes on Memorial Day

Local News

(ABC4) – Memorial Day, which typically marks the start of summer for many Americans, is a day to remember and honor the men and women who lost their lives serving our country in the military.

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Utah has a long and storied history of sending soldiers to serve in all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. With the help of the Utah National Guard and Utah Department of Veterans & Military Affairs, ABC4 compiled a list of those in the state who sacrificed their lives while serving their country.

Below is a list of the Utahns who were killed in action since 2010, starting with the most recent passing:

Remembering our local heroes

Army Sgt. Bryan C. Mount, 25, of St. George, was killed in a rollover accident on July 21, 2020, while conducting recon operations in Syria. Upon the arrival of his body, Main Street in St. George was lined with supporters, family, and friends who were there to pay respect. Mount was a member of the cross country team and student council at Parowan and had dreams of opening a barbershop after his service.

Army Chief Warrant Officer Kirk T. Fuchigami Jr., 25, who grew up in Hawaii and Nevada, but was buried near his wife’s home in Brigham City, died in a helicopter crash on Nov. 20, 2019, while providing security for troops on the ground. A returned missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Fuchigami is survived by his wife, parents, and siblings.

Army SFC Elliott J. Robbins, 31, who was born in California, but buried in Ogden, lost his life on June 30, 2019, in Afghanistan. He was a longtime Army veteran, serving for 13 years, and was a Green Beret and the top medic on his team at the time of his passing. He is survived by his wife, son, parents, and siblings.

Army SPC Michael T. Osorio, 20, who attended high school in Salt Lake City and Horseshoe Bend, Idaho, passed away on April 23, 2019, in Iraq. Osorio was a fast riser in the military, earning many accolades, including the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Army Achievement Medal, and Army Commendation Medal. He is survived by his parents and three siblings, one of whom is serving in the Army as well.

Army National Guard Major Brent R. Taylor, 39, of North Ogden, was serving as mayor of his hometown in Utah while also working in the service in Afghanistan at the time of his death. He was killed by a member of the Afghan commando troops he was training to support the U.S. efforts. The North Ogden Department of Veterans Affairs Outstation was renamed in his honor. He is survived by his wife, seven children, and the city he served as mayor.

Army Chief Warrant Officer Lee M. Smith, 35, grew up in Michigan but was laid to rest in Salt Lake City after his death on Nov. 11, 2017. He died in Iraq as a result of a non-combat-related incident. An Army officer for eight years, Smith was an experienced rotary wing pilot and flew Apache helicopters while earning many medals for his service. He is survived by his wife, two children, and parents.

Army Staff Sergeant Aaron R. Butler, 27, of Monticello, was killed in Afghanistan after succumbing to injuries he sustained from an improvised explosive device detonation in a booby-trapped structure. Known as a fearless leader, Butler also served an LDS mission in Ghana and was a four-time state wrestling champion at Monticello High School. He is survived by his parents, fiancé, and five siblings.

Army AFC Tracy L. Stapley, 44, of Ogden, gave his life for our country on July 3, 2013, in Qatar while on his second tour of duty. A 26-year veteran of the Army Reserves, Stapley was a lifelong Utahn and graduate of Clearfield High School. He was a star basketball player and later served an LDS mission in Argentina. Family and friends remember him by his nickname, “Dude.” He is survived by his wife, two children, father, and seven siblings.

Army Spc. Cody J. Towse, 21, of Elk Ridge passed away on May 14, 2013, in Sanjaray, Afghanistan after sustaining injuries from an explosion. Towse was nicknamed “the candy doctor” due to his habit of handing out candy to children in Afghanistan. He is survived by parents and siblings.

Navy Information Systems Technician Petty Officer First Class Jared W. Day, 28, of Taylorsville passed away on August 6, 2011, in Wardak province, Afghanistan, from wounds sustained from a helicopter crash. Day left behind many relatives.

Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator Jason R. Workman, 32, of Blanding passed away on Aug. 6, 2011, in Wardak province, Afghanistan, when his helicopter was shot down. Workman knew he wanted to be an elite soldier around age 14 when his brother graduated from West Point. He left behind a wife and young son.

Marine Sgt. Daniel D. Gurr, 21, of Vernal passed away on Aug. 5, 2011, in Helmand province, Afghanistan while performing combat operations. He is survived by family.

Army Cpl. Raphael R. Arruda, 21, of Ogden and a native of Brazil passed away on July 16, 2011, in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, from wounds sustained during an explosion. He is survived by several relatives who say he enjoyed having fun and making people laugh. 

Marine Lance Cpl. Norberto Mendez Hernandez, 22, of Logan passed away on July 10, 2011, while performing combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Mendez-Hernandez was a husband and the father of two young children. 

Army Specialist Preston J. Suter, 22, of Sandy passed away on July 5, 2011, in Paktia province, Afghanistan, when his unit was attacked with an explosive device. Suter is survived by a wife and many relatives. 

Army Pfc. Jordan M, Byrd, 19, of Grantsville passed away on Oct. 13, 2010, in Yahya Kheyl, Afghanistan, when insurgents attacked his unit. Byrd is survived by a wife and many relatives. 

Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Matthew G. Wagstaff, 34, of Orem passed away on Sept. 21, 2010, in Qalat, Afghanistan, in a helicopter crash during combat operations. He is survived by his wife and children. 

Army Sergeant Aaron K. Kramer, 22, of Salt Lake City passed away on Sept. 16, 2010, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, when insurgents attacked his unit. Kramer left a family and brother who called him his best friend.

Army Captain Ellery R. Wallace, 33, of Salt Lake City passed away on Aug. 28, 2010, in Nangahar province, Afghanistan, in a grenade attack. Wallace was a husband and father of four. 

Marine Lance Cpl. Nigel K. Olsen, 21, of Orem passed away on March 4, 2010, in Helmand province, Afghanistan, during combat operations. Relatives stated that Olsen fulfilled his childhood dream of serving in the military. 

Marine Lance Cpl. Carlos A. Aragon, 19, of Orem passed away on March 1, 2010, in Helman province, Afghanistan, during combat operations. He was remembered as a humble young man and a solid friend by friends and relatives. 

Sergeant First Class, James Thode, 45, passed away on Dec. 2, 2010, when his unit was attacked while clearing landmines in Khowst, Afghanistan. Thode was from Kirtland, N.M., but was a member of the Utah National Guard. He served in both Iraq and Afghanistan and is survived by a wife and two children.

ABC4 thanks the Utah National Guard and the Utah Department of Veterans & Military Affairs for their assistance in this story. We are grateful for all military families and their sacrifices. We will keep the true spirit of Memorial Day in our thoughts and hearts.

The ABC4 team made their best effort to include all the names of Utah military personnel killed in action since 2010 on this list. If you happen to know anyone we missed, please reach out to @KTVXDigital@nexstar.tv.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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