Veterans Working For Salt Lake City Honored At Ceremony
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Salt Lake City leaders honored the veterans working for the city in a ceremony that became even more emotional and poignant because of the death of North Ogden Mayor Major Brent Taylor.
Major Taylor was serving in Afghanistan as a member of the Utah National Guard. He was killed Saturday in what officials called “an insider attack.”
Many of the city’s military veterans said Taylor’s death struck a common chord among them.
“That hit home,” said Al Hoskins, a 24-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force. “My condolences go out to his wife and kids.”
Hoskins worked as a firefighter for the Salt Lake City Fire Department. He said he learned firefighting skills in the Air Force and served 24 years.
“I ended up doing 12 years, loving it,” he said. “I got out just long enough to get this job with Salt Lake City Fire, then I went back in as a reservist and did another 12 years.”
Hoskins deployed to Iraq three times, and understood what a big commitment that is for the whole family.
“It was a little scary when I first got there,” he said.
He said he was uplifted by the camaraderie among his fellow airmen.
“With the guys I was over there with, it was family, (the) only family I had (there),” he said. “Didn’t a day go by that I didn’t think whether I was going to make it home because it was kind of rough, that first tour.”
When he first heard about Taylor’s death, he had what he described as a sinking feeling.
“It could have happened to any one of us,” Hoskins said.
Salt Lake Mayor Jackie Biskupski told the gathering of workers that public service is a calling. It should be no surprise that many who choose to serve their community have also served our country in uniform.
Around 250 of the city’s 3000 workers have served in the military.
“Major Mayor Taylor’s life was the epitome of public service,” she said.
Mayor Biskupski said she knew Taylor served in the National Guard, but did not know he had deployed.
“Major Mayor Taylor is the perfect example of why we are here today: honoring our city employees who have served,” she said.
The city also presented each of the veterans in attendance a commemorative medal.
Military veteran employees also signed a banner that will hang over the City-County Building on Veterans Day.
Dawn Wagner signed the banner. She served in the Air Force for nearly a decade to pay for her education, and prepare for her career as Deputy City Engineer of Salt Lake City.
“We relate to a calling that is bigger than a job, a calling that’s bigger than your family, a calling that’s meant to protect your family and friends and your country,” she said.
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