The Green Beret who died Wednesday in Afghanistan was a former high school wrestling champion who was always determined to succeed, his former coach said Thursday.
Utah National Guardsman Staff Sgt. Aaron R. Butler, 27, was supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel when an explosive device detonated during combat operations in eastern Afghanistan, Pentagon officials said.
Other U.S. and Afghan soldiers suffered "various degrees of injury” while clearing a booby-trapped building in Nangarhar Province, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said at a news conference Thursday.
Butler, from Monticello, Utah, was remembered by his family, wrestling coach and hometown on Thursday.
"In a life that was all too brief, our dear son and brother made the ultimate sacrifice for his country,” his family said in a statement. “While we are heartbroken to become a Gold Star family, we honor Aaron’s service and sacrifice. Aaron was a strength to us, an inspiration to those around him, and a joy to have in our family."
At a young age, Butler showed determination, wrestling coach Kent Adair told FOX13 in Salt Lake City.
“His first match in high school he got pinned," Adair said. "And so, rather than be deterred at his goal, he worked hard and he fixed things he needed to fix and he was determined enough to do it."
Utah lawmakers, including Sens. Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch, also expressed their condolences to the grieving Butler family.
Butler was assigned to the 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Camp Williams, Utah.
Butler was the 10th U.S. service member killed in combat in Afghanistan this year, surpassing the nine killed in 2016.
The death comes as President Trump weighs a decision to send up to 4,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan in the coming days to roll back Taliban gains.
Asked late last week how soon a decision would be made, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters the Pentagon was “very close.”
The combined U.S. and NATO troop contingent currently in Afghanistan is about 13,500.
Fox News' Lucas Tomlinson contributed to this report.