Two soldiers killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday, including one from North Carolina, were each on their first deployments, Army officials said Friday.
The Department of Defense identified the soldiers Thursday evening as Spc. Christopher Michael Harris, 25, of Jackson Springs, N.C., and Sgt. Jonathon Michael Hunter, 23, of Columbus, Ind. Both were paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division, stationed at Fort Bragg.
Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday ordered all United States and North Carolina flags at state facilities to be lowered to half-staff in honor of the soldiers. The order remains in effect until sunset on Monday, the Department of Administration said.
Hunter and Harris died in Kandahar after a bomb hit their convoy during a security patrol in combat vehicles, 82nd Airborne spokesman Lt. Col. Joe Buccino said.
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Harris joined the Army in 2013, and Hunter in 2014. Both men were married, and Harris was awaiting his first child, Buccino said.
Vice President Mike Pence was at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware as Harris’ body returned to the United States.
“We join the people of North Carolina and every American in honoring the passing of ... Specialist Christopher Harris,” Pence said, according to a statement from the White House. “When heroes fall, America grieves, and our prayers will be with Spc. Harris’ wife Brittany, mother Susan, stepfather Dennis and all of his loved ones and friends.”
“Chris and Jon lived and died as warriors,” brigade commander Col. Toby Magsig said in a news release. “They will always be a part of the legacy of the Devil Brigade and their memory lives on in the hearts and minds of their fellow Paratroopers. Our thoughts and prayers are centered on the families and loved ones of these two great Americans.”
The division was already reeling from the death of another paratrooper that occurred at an off-post residence in Fayetteville on Sunday.
Civilian law enforcement officials are investigating the death of Staff Sgt. Nathan D. Stull, 37, of Dunn, Buccino said in a news release.
Stull joined the Army in 1999 and served three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Maj. Jeff Works noted in the statement.