The Department of Defense on Wednesday released the identities of three U.S. special operations troops killed during combat operations in Afghanistan.
The two Army Special Forces soldiers were Capt. Andrew Patrick Ross, 29, of Lexington, Virginia, and Sgt. 1st Class Eric Michael Emond, 39, of Brush Prairie, Washington. The two were assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
“Andrew and Eric were invaluable members and leaders in 3rd Special Forces Group and the special operations community. Our most heartfelt condolences go out to the families of these brave men,” Col. Nathan Prussian, 3rd Group commander, said in a statement.
The Special Tactics airman was Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin, 25, of Hookstown, Pennsylvania. He was assigned to the 26th Special Tactics Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico.
“[Dylan] was the guy everyone wanted to be around, in even the worst of times he had a smile on his face and a way to lighten things up,” a Special Tactics Officer and former team leader of Elchin said in a statement. “He was always doing whatever it took to get the job done.”
"Dylan had an unusual drive to succeed and contribute to the team. He displayed maturity and stoicism beyond his years and was always level-headed, no matter the situation,” said Lt. Col. Gregory Walsh, commander of the 26th Special Tactics Squadron. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dylan’s family, fiancé, and friends. He will be sorely missed, but never forgotten.”
The service members died from injuries sustained when their vehicle was struck by an IED in Andar district, Ghazni Province.
Their deaths raise the number of U.S. troops killed in combat in Afghanistan this year to 13. Four other Americans, including a civilian contractor, were wounded in the IED blast.
Of the three troops killed, Emond had been in the military the longest, at more than 21 years. He had served in the Marine Corps and the Army. This was his seventh overseas tour.
His awards and decorations include three Bronze Star Medals, two Purple Hearts, the Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, two NATO Achievement Medal, four Afghanistan Campaign Medals, Army Good Conduct Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, two Overseas Service Ribbons, National Defense Service Medal, Special Forces Tab, Ranger Tab, Combat Infantry Badge, and Combat Action Badge.
Emond was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart and Meritorious Service Medal. He is survived by his wife and three children.
Ross had more than seven years of service in the Army. This was his second overseas tour. His awards and decorations include two Bronze Star Medals, the Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, NATO Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Special Forces Tab, Ranger Tab, Combat Action Badge, Combat Infantry Badge, and Military Free Fall Parachutist Badge.
Ross was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal and the Combat Infantry Badge. He is survived by his wife and parents.
Elchin had been in the Air Force for six years, enlisting directly into Special Tactics.
He had qualified in static line parachuting, military free fall, combat scuba diving, and was a rated Joint Terminal Attack Controller.
His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal with Valor, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Combat Action Medal, Air Force Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Air Force Longevity Service Award, Air Force NCO Professional Military Education Graduate Ribbon, Air Force Training Ribbon and NATO Medal.
Elchin is survived by his mother and fiancée.
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter whose investigations have covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.