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Two Fort Drum soldiers killed in Afghanistan

By NEWSChannel 2 Staff

FORT DRUM, N.Y. - Two 10th Mountain Division Soldiers with the 2nd Aviation Battalion, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade were killed in Pul-E-Alam, Afghanistan, Tuesday April 23 from wounds sustained from enemy indirect fire.

The two soldiers killed are Captain Aaron R. Blanchard, age 32, of Selah, Washington and 1st Lieutenant Robert J. Hess, age 26, of Fairfax, Virginia.

Blanchard, an Apache pilot, joined the Marine Corps in January 2000, and deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from January to September 2003. After separating from the Marine Corps and completing an ROTC program Blanchard was commissioned into the Army in June 2009. He completed pilot training at Fort Rucker, Alabama, and arrived at Fort Drum in September 2011. He deployed with his unit to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in April 2013.

Blanchard's awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, the NATO Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Combat Action Badge, the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Army Aviator Badge, the Navy-Marine Corps Presidential Unit Citation, the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, four Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbons, the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal and two Rifle Expert Badges. He also completed Marine Combat Training, Aviation Machinist Mate Courses, the Apache Aviator Qualification Course, the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Course and the Aviation Officer Basic Course.

Blanchard is survived by his wife, two children, mother, father and two brothers.

Hess, a Blackhawk pilot, was commissioned into the Army in November, 2010.
After completing pilot training at Fort Rucker, Alabama, he arrived at Fort Drum in November 2012. He deployed with his unit to Afghanistan in Support of Operation Enduring Freedom in April 2013.

Hess's awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, the NATO Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Combat Action Badge, the Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, and the Army Aviator Badge. He completed the Aviation Officer Basic Course, the Blackhawk Aviator Qualification Course, the Blackhawk M-Model Aviator Qualification Course, and the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Course.

Hess is survived by his mother, father and brother.

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