KABUL, Afghanistan — A Special Tactics Airman was killed when his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, Nov. 27, 2018.
Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin, 25, a Special Tactics combat controller with the 26th Special Tactics Squadron, was deployed in support of OPERATION Freedom’s Sentinel.
Elchin deployed to Afghanistan in August and was embedded with a U.S. Army Special Operations Force Operational Detachment-Alpha team. Two of his joint team members were also killed in action when their vehicle hit an IED, Capt. Andrew Patrick Ross and Sgt. 1st Class Eric Michael Emond.
Elchin’s role was to advise the Ground Force Commander, direct close air support aircraft, and deliver destructive ordnance on enemy targets in support of offensive combat operations.
“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.”
Shortly after graduating Hopewell High School in Pennsylvania, Elchin enlisted in the United States Air Force as a Special Tactics combat controller on Aug. 7, 2012. He immediately entered the two-year combat control training program and upon completion of the pipeline, he was assigned to the 26th STS 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,” said a Special Tactics Officer and former team leader of Elchin. “He was always doing whatever it took to get the job done.”
Elchin was a qualified military static line jumper, free fall jumper, an Air Force qualified combat scuba diver, and a qualified 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 was also a Distinguished Graduate of Airman Leadership School.
As a Special Tactics combat controller, Elchin was specially trained and equipped for immediate deployment into combat operations to conduct global access, precision strike, and personnel recovery operations. He was skilled in reconnaissance operations, air traffic control and terminal attack control operations.
The 26th STS is part of the 720th Special Tactics Group, 24th Special Operations Wing, the only Special Tactics wing in the Air Force.