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US soldier killed alongside comrade in Afghanistan by a Taliban roadside bomb is returned to America

15 Jan 2020 Daily Mail Online

The body of a US soldier who was killed along with a comrade in a roadside bomb by a Taliban device has been returned to America.

Private First Class Miguel A. Villalon, 21, died alongside Staff Sgt. Ian P. McLaughlin, 29, during their first combat deployments when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan near Kandahar province on Saturday.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which left two other American soldiers injured while they were conducting operations as part of NATO's Resolute Support Mission.

Last night the body of Pfc Villalon was repatriated back to the US from Afghanistan and arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

A US Army carry team moves a transfer case containing the remains of Pfc Miguel A. Villalon, late on Tuesday night at Dover Air Force Base

Staff Sgt Ian P McLaughlin, 29, (left) and Pfc Miguel Villalon, 21, (right) were killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan on Saturday. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack

A US Army carry team the coffin containing the remains of Pfc Villalon, as Vice President Mike Pence (center) and other dignitaries, salute the soldier's body late on Tuesday

Vice President Mike Pence observes as military personnel carry a transfer case for fallen service member, Army Private First Class Miguel Villalon, during a transfer at Dover Air Force Base

Vice President Mike Pence attended the dignified transfer for the fallen service member who had a US flag draped over his coffin.

He was seen disembarking from Air Force Two upon arriving at Dover Air Force Base to attend the short ceremony.

A US Army carry team brought the transfer case containing the remains of Pfc Villalon off the plane before military personnel saluted him.

Both dead soldiers were assigned to the 307th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

McLaughlin hailed from Newport News, Virginia, while Villalon was a native of Aurora, Illinois, a Chicago suburb. 

The soldiers' deaths were the first for US Forces in 2020.

McLaughlin joined the Army in 2012 and his first assignment was as a horizontal construction engineer with the 62nd Engineer Battalion at Fort Hood, Texas. 

Both dead soldiers were assigned to the 307th Brigade Engineer Battalion and were on their first combat deployments when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device 

The coffin of Villalon being carried off a flight back to the US last night. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which left two other American soldiers injured, as well as killing Villalon and Staff Sgt. McLaughlin

Vice President Mike Pence (center right) and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. John Hyten (center left) saluted the body of Villalon when it arrived back in the US on Tuesday night 

In 2016, McLaughlin was reassigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, where he rose to become a squad leader. He graduated from the Advanced Airborne School Jumpmaster Course in 2018.

McLaughlin's awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with 'C' device, 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 is survived by his wife and four children.

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Villalon joined the Army in 2018 and completed Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, the following year. 

He served as a combat engineer for the 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg. 

His awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Achievement Medal with 'C' device, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal and the Combat Action Badge.

The 21-year-old is survived by his mother, who lives in Chicago, and his father, who lives in Brownsville, Texas.

Original Link: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7890003/US-soldier-killed-alongside-comrade-Afghanistan-Taliban-roadside-bomb-returned-America.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490

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