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Fallen paratrooper returns to Fort Bragg
After the plane landed, Pope Army Airfield was silent on Saturday.
A chaplain prayed and a family member sobbed.
Tarah McLaughlin's fingers traced her husband's flag-draped coffin before she pressed two fingers to her lips then pressed her fingers to the coffin.
The remains of Staff Sgt. Ian McLaughlin, 29, of Newport News, Virginia, arrived back to Fort Bragg a week after he was killed Jan. 11 by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.
Pfc. Miguel Angel Villalon, 21, of Joliet, Illinois, also was killed in the same incident.
Both soldiers were part of the Company B, 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.
Capt. Claire Cvetkovski, a chaplain, prayed, giving thanks for "the life and honorable service," of McLaughlin.
"Lord, may your perpetual light shine upon him, his family and his loved ones, and we ask that you pour our comfort upon them," Cvetkovski prayed. "We pray, Lord, that your strength and our faith can help us believe in what we cannot see Lord that your spirit leads us through the years that are to come and bring us together again with Ian and the joy of your eternal home."
After Tara McLaughlin was given a moment to say goodbye, hundreds of other paratroopers lined the roadway to salute as the hearse was escorted away.
Helping provide the dignified transfer escort of McLaughlin from Fort Bragg to the Lafayette Funeral Home in Fayetteville were more than 50 motorcycles and about 65 members of the North Carolina Patriot Guard Riders.
The Patriot Guard's purpose is to show honor and respect for fallen soldiers, veterans and first responders, said Steve "Scooper" Havens, assistant district captain for the Sandhills Division of the Patriot Guard.
"They will never be forgotten, whether they're in the service for a week or they've been in for 40 years," Havens said. "They will always be remembered."
A statement from the 82nd Airborne Division last week said McLaughlin's wife and four children are among the survivors.
His obituary states a funeral will full military honors will be held Tuesday at Fort Bragg.
McLaughlin's obituary states he joined the Army in 2012 as a heavy construction equipment operator.
His first assignment was with the 62nd Engineering Battalion at Fort Hood, Texas, where he met and married his wife, his obituary states.
He graduated Airborne School in 2016 and was later assigned to the 307th Brigade Engineer Battalion at Fort Bragg. In 2018, he became a jumpmaster.
Fort Bragg officials said McLaughlin's deployment to Afghanistan was his first.
McLaughlin's 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.
Maj. Gen. James Mingus, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, said McLaughlin and Villalon represented the best of the nation and Army.
"They went when our nation called and paid the ultimate sacrifice," Mingus said last week. "They will be honored, mourned, but never forgotten and we are committed to taking care of their families for life."
Col. Art Sellers, commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, said the paratroopers embodied "the values of the All American engineer."
In a joint statement, Lt. Col. Aaron Cox and Command Sgt. Maj. John Hankins, of the 307th Brigade Engineer Battalion, said McLaughlin and Villalon cannot be replaced.
"The impact that they made on the lives of their fellow paratroopers, the (battalion) will not be forgotten," the senior leader said Monday. "They leave a legacy of professionalism and zeal for life."
Staff writer Rachael Riley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-486-3528.
©2020 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.)
Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Though the Army has yet to actually set an official recruiting goal for this year, leaders are confident they're going to bring in more soldiers than last year.
Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, head of Army Recruiting Command, told reporters on Wednesday that the Army was currently 2,226 contracts ahead of where it was in 2019.
"I will just tell you that this time last year we were in the red, and now we're in the green which is — the momentum's there and we see it continuing throughout the end of the year," Muth said, adding that the service hit recruiting numbers in February that haven't been hit during that month since 2014.
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
We are women veterans who have served in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Our service – as aviators, ship drivers, intelligence analysts, engineers, professors, and diplomats — spans decades. We have served in times of peace and war, separated from our families and loved ones. We are proud of our accomplishments, particularly as many were earned while immersed in a military culture that often ignores and demeans women's contributions. We are veterans.
Yet we recognize that as we grew as leaders over time, we often failed to challenge or even question this culture. It took decades for us to recognize that our individual successes came despite this culture and the damage it caused us and the women who follow in our footsteps. The easier course has always been to tolerate insulting, discriminatory, and harmful behavior toward women veterans and service members and to cling to the idea that 'a few bad apples' do not reflect the attitudes of the whole.
Recent allegations that Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie allegedly sought to intentionally discredit a female veteran who reported a sexual assault at a VA medical center allow no such pretense.
KABUL/WASHINGTON/PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - The United States and the Taliban will sign an agreement on Feb. 29 at the end of a week long period of violence reduction in Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Taliban said on Friday.
Active-duty service members, Reservists and National Guard members often serve side-by-side performing highly skilled and dangerous jobs, such as parachuting, explosives demolition and flight deck operations.
Reservists and Guard members are required to undergo the same training as specialized active-duty troops, and they face the same risks. Yet the extra incentive pay they receive for their work — called hazardous duty incentive pay — is merely a fraction of what their active-duty counterparts receive for performing the same job.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, D-3 of Moorestown, are partnering on legislation to correct the inequity. Known as the Guard and Reserve Hazard Duty Pay Equity Act, the bill seeks to standardize payment of hazardous duty incentive pay for all members of the armed services, including Reserve and National Guard components.
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