29-year-old Virginia soldier killed in Afghanistan

Virginia News

(Photo: Courtesy 82nd Airborne Division)

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – One of the U.S. soldiers killed by a roadside bomb on Saturday in Afghanistan was from Newport News, the Department of Defense says.

The two soldiers killed were Staff Sgt. Ian P. McLaughlin, 29, of Newport News and Pfc. Miguel A. Villalon, 21, of Joliet, Illinois.

Officials say both soldiers were assigned to 307th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

In a press release sent by the 82nd Airborne Division, officials confirmed the death of the two soldiers.

“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,” 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.”

According to the release, McLaughlin joined the Army in 2012. His 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.

McLaughlin is survived by his wife and four children.

His mother, Glenna Carroll, of Newport News, spoke with our sister-station WAVY.

“Just a perfect example of a wonderful father and a wonderful son and man, and he served his country very proudly and he never, he never had a fear … If he did he never shared it. He went wholeheartedly into his career with the Army.”

Officials say Villalon joined the Army in 2018 and this was his first deployment. His awards 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.

He is survived by his mother in Chicago, Illinois, and father in Brownsville, Texas.

Virginia Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner expressed their sympathy for the soldier’s family on Monday.

Gov. Ralph Northam also expressed his condolences.

“I am deeply saddened by the news that Staff Sergeant Ian P. McLaughlin, of Newport News, was killed January 11, 2020, along with Private First Class Miguel A. Villalon of Joliet, Illinois, when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. Their loss is a reminder that our men and women in uniform across the globe continue to do dangerous work in pursuit of peace. Pam and I send our deepest condolences to the families and friends of these men, as well as to their fellow soldiers. I know I speak on behalf of all Virginians when I say that we are deeply grateful for their service and indebted to them for their sacrifice.”

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