FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WNCN/AP) — Two paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg were killed in Afghanistan during a roadside attack Saturday, officials said.
Staff Sgt. Ian Paul McLaughlin of Newport News, Va., and Pfc. Miguel Angel Villalon of Joliet, Ill., were both assigned to Company B, 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. Both soldiers were killed by an improvised explosive device, according to a news release from Fort Bragg.
Two other soldiers were also injured when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in the Dand district of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan. The Taliban immediately took responsibility for Saturday’s deadly attack.
McLaughlin, 29, who was on his first deployment, joined the U.S. Army in 2012. The staff sergeant is survived by his wife and four children.
Villalon, 21, is survived by his mother who lives in Chicago and father from Brownsville, Texas. He was also on his first deployment after joining the U.S. Army in 2018.
McLaughlin’s awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with “C” Device, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Good Conduct Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Combat Action Badge and the Basic Parachutist Badge. He was a 2018 graduate of the U.S. Army Advanced Airborne School Jumpmaster Course.
Villalon, who was a graduate of East Aurora High School, has awards and decorations that include the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal with “C” Device, the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal and the Combat Action Badge.
More than 2,400 U.S. service members have been killed in Afghanistan after 18 years of war. Last year was the deadliest for U.S. service members since 2014, with 23 American troops killed.
That’s even as Washington engaged in peace talks with the Taliban. The insurgents now control or hold sway over roughly half of Afghanistan.
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