SELAH, Wash.-- Family and friends are mourning the loss of a U.S. Army soldier born and raised in Selah, who was killed in action earlier this week.
Capt. Aaron Blanchard graduated from Selah High School in 1999 and grew up in the Yakima Valley.
"Aaron loved the army and he was doing what he loved to do," said DeLynn Elliott, Capt. Blanchard's fifth grade teacher and a close family friend.
Elliott had to fight back tears as she looked through old yearbooks and pictures of her former student. It's been a long time since she had Aaron in her class, but she remembers a boy who always knew what he wanted to do in life.
"He would wear fatigues and he would always talk about the army and he'd play army as a little boy. It was his passion, he absolutely wanted to be in the military," Elliott said.
The oldest of three brothers, Capt. Blanchard wasn't a stranger to military service. He spent five years in the Marine Corps, serving twice in Iraq.
In 2005, he left the marines, but wanted to do more for his country. So, he joined the ROTC program at Central Washington University, graduating as an officer and finally having the chance to follow his dream and fly.
"He gave 110% if it was something that he wanted to do, and flying was something that he always wanted to do. And so, he was able to pick the Apache helicopter," Elliot said.
According to family members, Aaron had only been in Afghanistan for about a week when a missile was launched into the forward operating base he was stationed in. He, along with an unreleased number of other soldiers were killed.
"It's definitely going to be a loss for this community. A great young man," Elliott said.
Capt. Blanchard's mother says her son's body is back in the states and will be brought back to Selah for his funeral.
She says one of Aaron's brother's, who is also in the military, is escorting his body back home.
Capt. Blanchard leaves behind his wife Becky, their two-year-old daughter, and their four-year-old son.
He was 32-years-old.