Governor orders flags at half-staff in honor of Villalon

Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered that the State and U.S. flags in Cameron County and surrounding counties be lowered and fly at half-staff in honor of Spc. Miguel A. Villalon, who was killed earlier this month in Afghanistan while conducting operations as part of Freedom’s Sentinel.

The order comes from a request by the City of Brownsville that the flags be lowered to honor the 21-year-old Brownsville native. The flags will remain at half-staff until Villalon’s burial, which is Saturday.

“Individuals, businesses, municipalities, and other political subdivisions and entities are encouraged to fly flags at half-staff for the same length of time,” Abbott stated in a press release.

“Our prayers for comfort are extended to the Villalon family in their time of grief. I urge all Texans to appropriately remember the sacrifice Specialist Villalon made for Texas and the United States,” Abbott stated.

Officials said Villalon and Staff Sgt. Ian Paul McLaughlin, of New Port News, Va., were in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, when they were killed Jan. 11.

According to a U.S. Department of Defense press release, the soldiers were conducting operations as part of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission. The incident is under investigation.

Both soldiers were assigned to 307th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Villalon joined the Army in 2018 to be a combat engineer and reported to the 307th as his first assignment. His awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Army Achievement Medal with “V” device (awarded to service members who perform “meritoriously under the most arduous combat conditions”) and the Combat Action Badge.

Officials said both soldiers were on their first combat deployments.