Northam offers condolences after Virginia soldier killed in Afghanistan

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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP/WDBJ) — UPDATE (Jan. 13):

(Left to right) Staff Sgt. Ian Paul McLaughlin and Pfc. Miguel Angel Villalon (Photo: 82nd Airborne)

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has expressed his condolences to the families of two American soldiers who died in Afghanistan, including one from Newport News.

Northam said in statement released Monday that their loss is a reminder that American service members "continue to do dangerous work in pursuit of peace.”

The men who died were 29-year-old Staff Sgt. Ian P. McLaughlin of Newport News; and 21-year-old Pfc. Miguel A. Villalon of Joliet, Illinois. They were killed when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan.

Both soldiers were assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

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Two United States troops were killed Saturday while conducting combat missions in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

According to the 82nd Airborne Division's Public Affairs Officer, an IED killed both Staff Sgt. Ian Paul McLaughlin, of Newport News, Va., and Pfc. Miguel Angel Villalon, of Joliet, Illinois.

Both were a part of Company B, 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

Staff Sgt. McLaughlin joined the Army in 2012 and was working his first combat deployment.

His awards and decorations include the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal. He was 29 years old and is survived by his wife and four children.

Pfc. Villalon joined the Army in 2018 and was also on his first combat deployment.

His awards and decorations also include the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal. He was 21 years old and is survived by his mother and father.

The Pentagon says their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan's Kandahar Province. Two other soldiers were injured.

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