Salem • A year ago, the Towse family attended a Memorial Day service with their son, Cody. On Monday, they attended a Memorial Day service at the cemetery where Cody will be buried on Saturday.
On May 14, Army medic Cody Towse was killed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. He was attempting to aid soldiers wounded in one explosion when a second IED went off.
His parents never considered skipping Monday's early morning ceremony at the Salem City Cemetery.
"This is a great tradition," said Jamie Towse, Cody's mother. "We always come here on Memorial Day. We have for years. Here and Orem.
"That's where we went with Cody last year. He was in his dress uniform. Looked good."
Jamie and Jim Towse, accompanied by their son, Christian, and daughter, Callen, were among about 150 people who turned out for a brief observance like so many around Utah and across the country.
Retirement-age veterans provided an honor guard and a three-volley salute; local beauty queens sang the national anthem; local politicians offered a few words of salute to fallen members of the military; and a lone bugler played.
"It was tough when they played taps," said Jim Towse, Cody's father. "That really got to me."
The fact that part of the tribute was to a soldier who died less than two weeks earlier brought some immediacy to the ceremony. It was about soldiers who died in World War II, in Korea, in Vietnam, but it was also about a 2010 Salem Hills High graduate who had just turned 21 when he gave his life in Sanjaray, Afghanistan.
"We're proud of all our veterans, and we're honored the family chose to bury Cody here," said Salem Mayor Randy Brailsford. "What a great sacrifice the young man gave.
"And their courage to come out today a lot of people wouldn't."
But the Towse family was determined.
"We've just been so surrounded by love from everybody," Jim Towse said. "And this is important. Sure, I want everyone to remember Cody, but I want them to remember all our troops."
He said that in Cody's last Facebook post, he wrote that he thought "Afghanistan is a forgotten war. Nobody cares about the soldiers. Nobody cares about what's going on over there," Jim Towse said. "It kills me to know that that was what was in his mind.
"He was over there to save guys. He wasn't really there to fight. He was there for a noble cause no matter what. I'm just the proudest dad, I'll tell you. We found out he's got, like, 10 medals."
The family arrived at the ceremony in Cody's orangish red 1973 Volkswagen Beetle.
"We were going to fix it up when he got back," said Jim Towse. "He was buying parts for it online while he was in Afghanistan and sending them home. I'm going to go ahead and finish it. We're going to make a memorial of it and take it to car shows and parades."
"We want to get the message out that people remember all the troops, so we can support them better and understand their mission," said Jamie Towse.
Jim Towse expressed concern that so many American soldiers die while so few take notice. Five members of Cody's battalion were killed the week before he and three others died.
"It's just silly that nine guys have to die and never been mentioned [in the national news]," Jim Towse said. "They're fighting for the nation. The whole nation should know that Cody died. And the others, too."
Cody Towse funeral
Cody Towse's remains will be returned to Utah on Wednesday and the military will conduct a 12 noon Dignified Transfer ceremony at the Provo Municipal Airport. Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Saturday at Salem Hills High School. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the PFC Cody Towse Memorial Scholarship Fund at any Wells Fargo bank branch or at Cody's Tropical Sno Shave Ice Shack, 495 N. Main, Springville; at PartyLand locations in Lehi, Orem, Springville and St George; or through Facebook via Paypal: facebook.com/#!/pages/Cody-Towse/127249907475894?fref=ts