N.C. flags at half-staff for soldiers

RALEIGH, N.C. (WFMY 2) — Governor Roy Cooper has ordered all North Carolina flags at state facilities to be lowered to half-staff in honor of Fort Bragg soldiers.

“Our hearts are heavy with the loss of two brave paratroopers in Afghanistan. To honor their memories, I order the flags to half staff,” Cooper said.

According to the State of North Carolina Department of Administration, Governor Cooper ordered all United States and North Carolina flags at state facilities to be lowered beginning Monday.

The order was in honor of US Staff Sgt. Ian Paul McLaughlin of Virginia and Pfc. Miguel Angel Villalon of Illinois, who lost their lives while conducting combat operations on Saturday in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

The department said Staff Sgt. McLaughlin and Pfc. Villalon were both paratroopers assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division based in Fort Bragg.

The state said McLaughlin joined the Army in 2012 and served as a squad leader.

The department said McLaughlin is survived by his wife and four children.

Villalon joined the Army in 2018 as a combat engineer, was on his first deployment, and is survived by his mother and father.

Flags are supposed to remain at half-staff until sunset, Jan. 19.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has also expressed his condolences to the families of the two American soldiers who died in Afghanistan on Saturday. Northam said in statement that their loss is a reminder that American service members “continue to do dangerous work in pursuit of peace.”