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CAPT Aaron R. Blanchard, 32, of Selah, WA., assigned to 2nd Aviation Battalion, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.; died April 23 of wounds caused by indirect fire in Pul-E-Alam, Afghanistan. He enlisted in the Marine Corps shortly after graduation from high school in 1999. He completed basic training at Camp Pendleton in San Diego and earned certification as an Aviation Mechanic at Pensacola, FL. He made three major deployments including two combat tours in Iraq as a platoon Sergeant. Aaron’s Marine career took him all over the world, across the oceans and through the skies, from Southeast Asia to Iraq. In 2002, he met and married his wife, Becky. In 2005, Aaron and Becky enrolled at Central Washington University, where Aaron joined the Army ROTC program, seeking the bachelor’s degree and leadership training required to be a helicopter pilot. Aaron completed pilot training at Ft. Rucker, Alabama; he was reassigned to Ft. Drum, New York, in 2011. In early April 2013, he joined the 2nd Aviation Battalion, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade in Afghanistan, flying an AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter. Aaron’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 Office Basic Course.

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