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Capt. Aaron Blanchard, a 32-year-old Army helicopter pilot who grew up in Selah, Yakima County, was killed Tuesday in Pul-e Alam, Afghanistan, according to the Army.

Blanchard was one of two pilots from the 2nd Aviation Division 10th Mountain Division who died Tuesday from what the Army called “wounds sustained from enemy indirect fire.”

The second pilot who died was 1st Lt. Robert Hess, 26, of Fairfax, Va.

Blanchard began military service with the Marine Corps, joining in January 2000, and deploying to Iraq in January 2003. After separating from the Marines, he completed Reserve Officer Training Corps school and was commissioned in the Army in June 2009.

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His mother, Laura Schactler, told the Yakima Herald-Republic that the 1999 Selah High School graduate served in two tours of Iraq before flying an Apache Longbow as an Army pilot.

“Being a pilot is a very competitive thing, and he excelled at it because he wanted it so bad,” Schactler told the newspaper this week. “He was living his dream, and not very many of us get to do that.”

Blanchard deployed with his unit to Afghanistan this month.

His awards include the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, the NATO Medal and the Combat Action Badge.

He was based out of Fort Drum, N.Y.

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

Hal Bernton: 206-464-2581 or

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