This Week at War: Support Our Troops

The Stream's weekly look at the ongoing sacrifices of U.S. service members and military families around the world.

A U.S. Army paratrooper overlooks the vast mountain range to ensure the area is secure following a key leader engagement mission in southeastern Afghanistan on December 29, 2019.

By Tom Sileo Published on January 24, 2020


Memorial services are being held for two U.S. Army heroes who recently lost their lives during the ongoing war in Afghanistan.

Staff Sgt. Ian McLaughlin and Pfc. Miguel Villalon were killed by an enemy improvised explosive device in Kandahar Province on January 11. Staff Sgt. McLaughlin, who is survived by his wife and four children, was honored during a Tuesday funeral service at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Private First Class Villalon’s funeral services begin on Friday in Brownsville, Texas.

As we pray for the McLaughlin and Villalon families, a group of about 250 American soldiers is preparing to leave for Afghanistan. According to, the headquarters unit of the Army’s storied 10th Mountain Division “will follow on the arrival of about 3,500 troops from the 10th Mountain’s 1st (Brigade Combat Team). That unit is expected to move into place in late winter.”

This week’s news reminds us that even as the Trump administration tries to negotiate an end to America’s longest war, the brave men and women of our military must remain in a constant state of readiness. As the tragic deaths of Staff Sgt. Ian McLaughlin and Pfc. Miguel Villalon remind us, the Taliban are still attacking coalition troops and Afghan civilians even amid reports of breakthroughs and possible peace deals.

Please continue asking God to watch over all U.S. troops serving during the war in Afghanistan and other conflicts.

Middle East

The Pentagon said on Friday that 34 U.S. service members suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI) during a missile strike by Iran on Al Asad Airbase in Iraq earlier this month.

“Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters that eight service members who had been previously transported to Germany had been moved to the United States,” Reuters reported.

May the Lord comfort these injured American heroes and their families.


Details are emerging about a major battle between U.S. Marines serving in Kenya and the al-Shabab terrorist group earlier this month.

According to the Marine Corps Times, “about a dozen Marines from 3rd Marine Raider Battalion, based out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, led Kenyan commandos against the Islamic militants” after a deadly attack on a Manda Bay base that houses U.S. troops and contractors. The initial attack killed an American service member, U.S. Army Spc. Henry Mayfield Jr., as well as two American contractors, according to the article.

“The Marines engaged in an intense firefight with the al-Shabab militants, the sources said, ultimately pushing the Islamic fighters out of the military base,” Philip Athey and Shawn Snow wrote.

We are praying for the safe return of these brave Marines and for the loved ones of the fallen American service member and contractors.

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A North Carolina company has found a unique way to show support for our deployed troops and their families shouldering the burdens of war.

For the past few weeks, Dyal Studios near Camp Lejeune has been giving free “hug-a-hero” dolls to military children with a mom or dad stationed overseas, according to a recent story in the Charlotte Observer.

The dolls give young children an opportunity to keep hugging their deployed parent while he or she is away. After an initial giveaway got an extraordinary response, donations starting pouring into the company to keep the noble effort going.

“I think I’m going to try to team up with the USO or Red Cross to help us distribute the dolls because I don’t think my studio can keep up with the supply and demand,” Tricia Dyal told the newspaper.

Thank you to Dyal Studios for stepping forward to support our troops and their children.

Coming Home

The brave men and women of the USS Abraham Lincoln are back in San Diego after ten months serving at sea.

Lincoln Home from War

A young boy watches as U.S. Navy sailors man the rails aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln as it returns to to Naval Air Station North Island in the San Diego Bay on January 20, 2020, after a ten-month deployment.

Welcome home, heroes!


Tom Sileo is a contributing senior editor of The Stream. He is co-author of 8 Seconds of CourageBrothers ForeverFire in My Eyes and the forthcoming Three Wise Men. Follow Tom on Twitter @TSileo and The Stream at @Streamdotorg.

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