Two Minnesota families are mourning the loss of two men killed last week fighting for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
"It took so long to sink in, I don't think it has really," Kyle Taylor said in Two Harbors Tuesday morning. Marine Staff Sgt. Aaron Taylor, Kyle's older brother, was killed Friday while on foot patrol in Afghanistan. "He was a great man, he died doing what he loved to do and I only wish I could be like him some day," Kyle Taylor said.
A day later, 24 year old National Guard Specialist George Cauley of Walker died in Afghanistan. He was injured a few days earlier by an insurgent bomb, also in Helmand Province.
The two soldiers were killed as President Obama considered a request for 40,000 extra troops for the war in Afghanistan. General Stanley McChrystal, the military commander in the country, made a very public plea for more soldiers on the grounds a few weeks ago.
"It certainly will intensify. As we escalate, so will the other side," U of M Anthropology Chair William Beeman said. Beeman is an internationally known expert on the Middle East. He believes even with more US troops, the war will become even more difficult in the coming weeks. Beeman said Afghanistan is so divided that it could be tough to figure out who is loyal to Al Qaeda and who will be willing to help US soldiers.
"The country's always been split up in small territories that were more or less governed by local political figures. Nobody has a tattoo on their forehead that says Taliban or Al Qaeda," Beeman said. He also added that the people of Afghanistan are prone to change loyalties on a weekly or monthly basis.
The U.S. Department of Defense reports more than 792 servicemen and women have been killed in or around Afghanistan in the past 8 years. 612 were killed by "hostile action."
Currently, 117 MN National Guard Soldiers from Duluth's 114th are in the country, 24 additional Minnesotans are on a Mentoring Liaison Team. Another 130 Army Reservists from Minnesota were deployed to Afghanistan a month and a half ago.
The family of Aaron Taylor is thinking of each and every one of them, as they continue Aaron's mission. "He was working with a good bunch of guys and he was proud to work with them," Kyle Taylor concluded.(Copyright 2009 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)