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Fort Drum soldiers killed in Afghanistan

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1st Lt. Robert J. Hess and Capt. Aaron R. Blanchard (U.S. Army photos) 1st Lt. Robert J. Hess and Capt. Aaron R. Blanchard (U.S. Army photos)
NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

Two soldiers from Fort Drum, in northern New York, were killed in combat in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense announced.

Capt. Aaron R. Blanchard, 32, of Selah, Wash., and 1st Lt. Robert J. Hess, 26, of Fairfax, Va., suffered fatal wounds when they were hot by indirect fire in Pul-E-Alam on April 23, 2013, the Pentagon said.

They were assigned to the 2nd Aviation Battalion, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered flags on state government buildings to be flown at half-staff on April 30 in their honor.

"I join with all New Yorkers in mourning the loss of Captain Blanchard and Lieutenant Hess, and I send my deepest sympathies to their family, friends, and fellow soldiers," Cuomo said. "We will honor the service of these Fort Drum soldiers and we will be forever grateful for their dedication to duty and to our nation."

Blanchard joined the Marines in 2000 and served in Iraq in 2003, the Army said. After leaving the Marines, he completed an ROTC program and joined the Army in 2009 to become an Apache helicopter pilot. Among his many decorations are the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and the NATO Medal, the military said.

Blanchard leaves behind a wife, two children, parents, and two brothers, the Army said.

Hess, a Blackhawk pilot, was commissioned into the Army in 2010, the military said. His awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, the NATO Medal, and many more.

Hess is survived by his parents and brother.

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