Staff Sgt. Joshua Melton, 26, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry based in Marion, and Sgt. Paul Smith, 43, with Troop C, 2nd Battalion, 106th Cavalry based in Aurora, were killed in action June 19 in Afghanistan.
Melton, a resident of Germantown, Ill., graduated from Central Community High School, Breese, Ill., in 2001.
Smith, a resident of East Peoria, Ill., graduated from East Peoria Community High School in 1984. He enlisted in the Illinois Army National Guard in April 1993. This was his third deployment.
His first two deployments were in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom April 2003 to March 2004 and February 2005 to January 2006.
“The loss of these two Illinois National Guard Soldiers is devastating,” said Maj. Gen. William Enyart, Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard. “Staff Sgt. Melton and Sgt. Smith were true patriots, answering the call to duty and supporting their fellow Soldiers during multiple deployments. They are remarkable, devoted Soldiers who will always be our heroes. We will remember these Soldiers by their bravery and the sacrifice they made for us all. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families at this difficult time.”
The two Soldiers were killed when their vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Two other Soldiers in the vehicle, also assigned with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2nd Battalion, 106th Cavalry and Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry, were injured in the accident.