The U.S. Department of Defense has identified the two paratroopers that were killed by an IED in Afghanistan on Saturday: Staff Sgt. Ian P. McLaughlin, 29, of Newport News, Virginia, and Pfc. Miguel A. Villalon, 21, of Joliet, Illinois. The Taliban claimed responsibility, but the incident is still under investigation. Two service members were injured in the incident.
As part of a U.S.-led NATO mission to train, assist and advise Afghan forces, between 12,000-13,000 U.S. troops are currently serving in Afghanistan. McLaughlin and Villalon were conducting operations as part of NATO’s Resolute Support mission. According to Fort Bragg, this was the first combat deployment for both soldiers. Both of their awards and decorations include the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.