Military officials say two U.S. soldiers serving in the 10th Mountain Division have died the same day after separate attacks in Afghanistan.
Officials at Fort Drum in northern New York say 24-year-old Sgt. Shawn Farrell of Accord in Ulster County died Monday from wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire in Kapisa province.
Fort Drum officials say 20-year-old Pfc. Christian Chandler of Trenton, Texas, also died Monday when his unit was attacked in Logar province.
Farrell joined the Army after graduating from Rondout Valley High School in 2008. He began his second tour in Afghanistan in November. Farrell's survivors include his wife and parents.
Chandler joined the Army in October 2012. He deployed to Afghanistan in October. He's survived by his mother, Rhonda, and his stepfather.
“What I wouldn't give to have that great big warm hug one more time,” said Rhonda.
A collection of crosses on her wall gave her peace while her son was away. She didn't want him over there, but Chandler was determined to serve his country.
He was shot in March, but chose to stay overseas.
At Whitewright High School, Chandler was a linebacker and marched in the band.
But with flags at half-staff on Wednesday, the 2012 graduate is now a teacher.
"They'll be reminded of the sacrifices that are given to us, to be able to go to football games and participate in the band,” said Whitewright principal Kelly Hayes.
Rhonda says she couldn’t be prouder of her son, and adds that her hero has a higher duty.
“God needed more soldiers in heaven, and I'm proud mine can be one,” said Rhonda.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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