Five years after death in Afghanistan, Monticello still remembers Aaron Butler

Aug 6, 2022, 5:22 PM | Updated: 6:10 pm

MONTICELLO, Utah — On any given weekend in Utah, chances are good you can find a 5k or 10k to run or walk. To really to understand why a run in San Juan County Saturday morning was so important, you have to go back five years.

In August of 2017, the body of 27-year-old Army Staff Sergeant Aaron Butler came home to Monticello. He was a Green Beret with the U.S. Army Special Forces and was killed in Afghanistan.

His funeral was an event in Monticello, where everybody seems to know everybody and where Aaron grew up to be a 4-time state wrestling champion.

On Saturday, the run and ceremony were hosted to remember and honor him. His mother said the family does it all the time anyway.

“We have our little shrine to Aaron, and we have our moments,” said Laura Butler. “We talk about him. Refer to him. Tell the funny stories.”

Runners cross the finish line at the Aaron Butler Memorial Foundation run.

However, to have so many people in the community still thinking about her son and his sacrifice that’s really special to the family.

“We appreciate it and the community,” said Laura with tears in her eyes. “They’re always reaching out.”

The run wasn’t just about Butler, though.

Pictures of others who died serving our country lined the running routes to inspire runners to keep going and not give up. Those are words Aaron lived by.

“He was a very special person. He was a special warfighter. He was a special friend and teammate,” said Dan Nelson.

Nelson was injured in the same explosion that killed Aaron. Not only were they friends, but Nelson was also Aaron’s commanding officer.

He said he still feels the burden of Aaron not coming home alive.

Aaron Butler Memorial Foundation Founder, Dan Nelson, speaking at the event.

“I guess I’m supposed to, right?” said Nelson. “My hope is instead of letting it destroy me, I’m hoping to do something positive in Aaron’s memory.”

So, Nelson started the Aaron Butler Memorial Foundation.

It’s the Foundation that organized this event for Aaron and all those soldiers in the pictures.

This is the 4th time the Foundation has held a running event, but usually, it’s held in Boise, where Nelson lives.

This year, for the first time, the Foundation decided to hold it in Monticello.

“We wanted to bring this event to Monticello and honor the village that raised us,” said Adam Butler, who is Aaron’s brother and on the Board of Directors for the Foundation. “They say it takes a village, and we were lucky. We got a good one.”

It’s this village where, even five years later, people are truly remembering one of their own.

“He is not forgotten here,” said Laura. “Everyone still knows him, and we appreciate it more than they know.”

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Five years after death in Afghanistan, Monticello still remembers Aaron Butler