FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Staff Sgt. Ian Paul McLaughlin returned to Fort Bragg Saturday following his death in Afghanistan earlier this month, WRAL reports.
The 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper was honored by fellow paratroopers, friends and family before his casket was removed from the plane and transferred to his wife and four children.
Fellow service-members saluted while a Patriot Guard of around 50 motorcycles guided McLaughlin from Fort Bragg to a Fayetteville funeral home.
“We also do not want anyone to feel like they are forgotten because they will never be forgotten,” said Steve Havens, a member of the Patriot GuardHavens.
People gathered on the street and held flags where McLaughlin’s procession would pass by.
On Jan. 11, Pfc. Miguel Angel Villalon, 21, of Joliet, Illinois, was killed alongside McLaughlin in Kandahar, Afghanistan by an explosive device.
“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.”
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.