A U.S. soldier from Aurora was killed by a roadside bomb while serving in Afghanistan.

The city of Aurora, Illinois, said that 21-year-old Miguel Villalon was one of two U.S. service members killed on Saturday, Jan. 11.

“Miguel was a young soldier with dreams for the future and a desire to make a difference in the world today,” said Aurora mayor and veteran Richard Irvin in a statement. “Much like all of us who have left from our hometown of Aurora to serve our country, our goal is to do our job well and return to our family and friends. Sadly, Miguel made the ultimate sacrifice as he protected our freedom from the front lines. The City of Lights shines much dimmer because of this loss. We’ll stand with his family and provide support. Godspeed, young soldier.”

The Taliban took responsibility for the attack that killed Villalon. A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yusouf Ahmadi, said it occurred in the southern Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.

Villalon, who attended East Aurora High School, was killed when the vehicle he was traveling in struck an improvised explosive device, or IED, according to a statement from Irvin.

He had joined the Army in 2018 and this was his first combat deployment.

Flags in Aurora were lowered in his honor Sunday night, Jan. 12.

More than 2,400 U.S. service members have been killed in Afghanistan. Last year was one of the deadliest for the United States, with 23 American service members killed, even as Washington engaged in peace talks with the Taliban.

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