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21-year-old soldier killed in Afghanistan was from Illinois, city says

BEV SCHILLING/STARS AND STRIPES

By J.P. LAWRENCE | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 11, 2020

KABUL, Afghanistan – One of the first U.S. two service members killed in Afghanistan in 2020 was a 21-year-old from the Chicago suburbs, according to the city of Aurora, Ill., via a statement on Facebook Sunday.

Miguel Villalon, whose rank was not mentioned, was killed in action Saturday when his vehicle struck a roadside bomb in south Afghanistan, the statement said.

The Pentagon has not released the identity of either soldier killed in the attack under a Defense Department policy of withholding identification until 24 hours after the notification of next of kin.

“Our prayers and condolences are with the Villalon family during this tragic time,” Richard C. Irvin, mayor of Aurora, said in the statement. “Miguel was a young soldier with dreams for the future and a desire to make a difference in the world today.”

Villalon’s high school, East Aurora School District 131, also posted a statement on Facebook: “We extend our sincere condolences to Miguel’s family, friends, and all those who loved him.”

Aurora is west of Chicago and about an hour away from the town of Hazel Crest, home of another U.S. soldier slain this month: Spc. Henry Mayfield Jr., 23, was killed in a Jan. 5 attack in Kenya.

Two U.S. service members were wounded in the Saturday attack, which occurred in the southern province of Kandahar, a NATO Resolute Support spokesman said.

The Taliban immediately claimed responsibility in a statement from spokesman Qari Yusouf Ahmadi, The Associated Press reported.

More than 2,400 American troops have died in Afghanistan since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion launched in response to the 9/11 attacks.

Most of the 20,000 international troops now in Afghanistan are focused on training and advising Afghan security forces, with a smaller contingent taking part in a counterterrorism mission.

lawrence.jp@stripes.com
Twitter: @jplawrence3

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