Afghanistan IED Blast Kills Two American Soldiers
Staff Sgt. Ian Paul McLaughlin and Pfc. Miguel Angel Villalon were killed in an Afghanistan IED blast on Saturday when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb. Two other American soldiers were wounded in the attack. The Taliban immediately claimed responsibility.
Both men were a part of Company B, 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg. They were a part of the US Army’s Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
SSgt McLaughlin, 29, was on his first combat deployment. He was from Newport News, Virginia. He is survived by his wife and four children. In addition to the Purple Heart and Bronze Star medals, he received the Army Commendation Medal with “C” device, the Combat Action Badge and the Basic Parachutist Badge. He graduated from the Advanced Airborne Jumpmaster Course in 2018.
According to the Army Times,
McLaughlin joined the Army in 2012. His first assignment was with the 62nd Engineer Battalion at Fort Hood, Texas, as a horizontal construction engineer. In 2016, he was reassigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, where he ultimately became a squad leader.
Pfc Villalon, 21, was also on his first combat deployment, and is survived by his mother and father. He joined the Army in 2018 to become a combat engineer. He was from Joliet, Illinois. Pfc Villalon graduated from East Aurora High School, and was said to be proudly serving in the US Army. He was the second Chicago area service member to be killed in a week, the other was Spc Henry “Mitch” Mayfield Jr.
Both men were awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star medals. Villalon also was awarded the Army Achievement Medal with “C” device and the Combat Action Badge.
According to Col. Art Sellers, Commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, “When our Nation called for its best Airborne Combat Engineers to deploy into harm’s way, Staff Sgt. McLaughlin and Pfc. Villalon answered without hesitation. They lived their motto, ‘Essayons,’ and embodied the values of the All American Engineer,” and “Their loved ones are now surrounded by a caring community offering comfort and assistance through this difficult time.”
WGN TV reported:
Our prayers and condolences are with the Villalon family during this tragic time,” said Aurora Mayor Richard C. Irvin, a veteran of the United States Army. “Miguel was a young soldier with dreams for the future and a desire to make a difference in the world today. Much like all of us who have left from our hometown of Aurora to serve our country, our goal is to do our job well and return to our family and friends. Sadly, Miguel made the ultimate sacrifice as he protected our freedom from the front lines. The City of Lights shines much dimmer because of this loss. We’ll stand with his family and provide support. Godspeed, young soldier.”
The Afghanistan IED Blast occurred in the Southern Province of Kandahar during a training and counterterrorism mission. Because the Taliban were so quick to claim responsibility, it may put a giant crimp in the “peace talks.” Last time, President Trump stopped the talks entirely when they killed an American.
Featured photo: L-Pfc Miguel Angel Villalon, R-SSgt Ian Paul McLaughlin. US Army photos