Staff Sergeant Dylan Elchin, an Air Force Special Tactics Airman, was killed in Ghazni province, Afghanistan when his vehicle was hit with an improvised explosive device (IED) on November 27, 2018. He was attached to a U.S. Army Special Forces detachment that was on a combat mission at the time of his death. Two Green Berets were killed, three other U.S. service members wounded, and a U.S. contractor was also wounded during the IED incident.
SSgt Elchin was a member of the 26th Special Tactics Squadron. The unit is located at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico. SSgt Elchin was attached to a Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) of the 3rd Special Forces Group to direct close air support aircraft and deliver ordnance on enemy targets.
Lt. Col. Gregory Walsh, the commander of the 26th Special Tactics Squadron, said:
“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. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dylan’s family, fiance, and friends. He will be sorely missed, but never forgotten.”
SSgt Elchin was born in Beaver, Pennsylvania in 1993. He graduated from Hopewell High School in Pennsylvania. While in high school he participated in school sports and was a member of the high school band. He was active in the wood and metal trades while in high school.
After graduation from High School he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force as a Special Tactics Combat Controller in 2012. Upon completing the two-year training program he was assigned to the 26th Special Tactics Squadron.
Elchin had attended a number of challenging military schools to include airborne school, HALO, and combat diver.
His awards and decorations include:
- 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 Ribbon
- Air Force Training Ribbon
- NATO Medal
Air Force Special Tactics Combat Controllers are specially trained and equipped for immediate deployment into combat operations to conduct global access, precision strikes, and personnel recovery operations. They are skilled in reconnaissance operations, air traffic control, and terminal attack control operations.
The 26th Special Tactics Squadron is part of the 720th Special Tactics Group, 24th Special Operations Wing.
SSgt Elchin is survived by his mother and fiance. He and his fiance were planning a wedding in early 2019 after his return from Afghanistan.
“Special tactics airman killed in Afghanistan followed in family’s footsteps”, Air Force Times, November 29, 2018.
“3rd Special Forces Group Soldiers Die in Afghanistan”, SOF News, November 28, 2018.
“DoD Identifies Three Operation Freedom’s Sentinel Casualties”, DoD, November 28, 2018.
“U.S. Service Members Killed in Afghanistan”, Resolute Support Afghanistan, November 27, 2018.
“Airmen Hold an Emotional Viking Funeral for Fallen Combat Controller”, Task & Purpose, December 13, 2018.
Photos: Provided by 24th Special Operations Wing public affairs office.