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Gov. Cooper orders flags to be flown at half-staff to honor 2 Fort Bragg paratroopers killed in Afghanistan

RALEIGH, N.C. — Governor Roy Cooper ordered all NC and US flags to be lowered to half-staff Monday at all state facilities to honor the two 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers who were killed in combat in Afghanistan Saturday, WNCN reports.

Staff Sgt. Ian Paul McLaughlin of Newport News, Virginia and Pfc. Miguel Angel Villalon, 21, of Joliet, Illinois, were both assigned to Company B, 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division when they were killed by an improvised explosive device, according to an 82nd Airborne Division news release.

“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,” said Col. Art Sellers, Commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. “Their loved ones are now surrounded by a caring community offering comfort and assistance through this difficult time.”

“These paratroopers represent the very best of our nation and our army. Three-time volunteers, they went when our nation called and paid the ultimate sacrifice. They will be honored, mourned but never forgotten and we are committed to taking care of their families for life,” said Maj. Gen. James Mingus, the 82nd Airborne Division Commander.

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McLaughlin joined the Army in 2012 and after completing basic combat training and advanced individual training, he was assigned to the 68th Engineer Company, 62nd Engineer Battalion at Fort Hood, Texas as a Horizontal Construction Engineer.

In 2016, he was assigned to the 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg where he served as a Horizontal Construction Engineer and later as a Squad Leader. This was his first combat deployment.

McLaughlin’s awards and decorations are as follows:

  • Purple Heart
  • Bronze Star Medal
  • Army Commendation Medal with “C” Device
  • Army Commendation Medal
  • Army Achievement Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters
  • Army Good Conduct Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster
  • Combat Action Badge
  • Basic Parachutist Badge

He was a 2018 graduate of the U.S. Army Advanced Airborne School Jumpmaster Course.

McLaughlin is survived by his wife and four children.

Villalon joined the Army in 2018 and after completing Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training in 2019 at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, he was assigned to the 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg where he served as a Combat Engineer. This was his first combat deployment.

Villalon’s awards and decorations are as follows:

  • Purple Heart
  • Bronze Star Medal
  • Army Commendation Meda
  • Army Achievement Medal with “C” Device
  • Army Achievement Medal
  • Army Good Conduct Medal
  • Combat Action Badge.

Villalon is survived by his mother, of Chicago, and father, of Brownsville, Texas.

An investigation is ongoing.

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