Special Operations News

Special Tactics Airmen Plan 830-mile Ruck

HURLBURT FIELD, FL – Twenty Special Tactics Airmen will ruck from Medina Annex at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas to Hurlburt Field to pay tribute to Staff Sgt. Dylan J. Elchin, a Special Tactics combat controller, who was killed in Afghanistan on Nov. 27, 2018, and in honor of the other 19 Special Tactics Airmen who have been killed in action since 9/11.

Elchin, along with U.S. Army Capt. Andrew Ross and U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric Emond, were killed in action when their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, Nov. 27, 2018, while deployed in support of OPERATION Freedom’s Sentinel. U.S. Army Sgt. Jason McClary died later as a result of injuries sustained from the IED. 

The Special Tactics Airmen will depart Medina Annex on Feb. 22 at 2:00 a.m. and they are scheduled to arrive at Hurlburt Field, Mar. 4 at 1:00 p.m. 

Special Tactics Airmen begin their training at Medina Annex, together, and become combat ready upon graduation of the Special Tactics Training Squadron at Hurlburt Field, thus the march route mimics the training passage our Airmen endure. The journey takes the Airmen across five states and 830 miles. 

Historically, Air Force Special Tactics plans a memorial march when a member is killed in action. This is the 5th Special Tactics Memorial March since 2009 and since it originated as the “Tim Davis Memorial March.” The march was renamed to honor all fallen Special Tactics Airmen in 2011 to the “Special Tactics Memorial March.” 

The ruck marchers are composed of 10 teams of two Special Tactics Airmen. These Airmen will begin the march by rucking the first 4.7 miles together. 

From there, each team will ruck an average of 12 miles per leg and alternate teams. Each day, the teams will ruck a combined 70 miles to complete the 830-mile journey over 11 days. 

A memorial baton inscribed with each of the fallen Special Tactics Airman’s names will be carried throughout the way to honor the fallen: 

Master Sgt. William McDaniel of Greenville, Ohio, Special Tactics Pararescueman, Feb. 22, 2002 

Staff Sgt. Juan Ridout of Oak Harbor, Wa., Special Tactics Pararescueman, Feb. 22, 2002 

Master Sgt. John Chapman of Windsor Locks, Conn., Special Tactics Combat Controller, Mar. 4, 2002 

Senior Airman Jason Cunningham of Camarillo, Calif., Special Tactics Pararescueman, Mar. 4, 2002 

Staff Sgt. Scott Sather of Clio, Mich., Special Tactics Combat Controller, April 8, 2003 

Capt. Derek Argel of Lompoc, Calif., Special Tactics Officer, May 30, 2005 

Capt. Jeremy Fresques of Clarksdale, Ariz., Special Tactics Officer, May 30, 2005 

Staff Sgt. Casey Crate of Spanaway, Wash., Special Tactics Combat Controller, May 30, 2005 

Senior Airman Adam Servais of Onalaska, Wis., Special Tactics Combat Controller, Aug. 19, 2006 

Technical Sgt. Scott Duffman of Albuquerque, N.M., Special Tactics Pararescueman, Feb. 18, 2007 

Technical Sgt. William Jefferson of Norfolk, Va., Special Tactics Combat Controller, Mar. 22, 2008 

Staff Sgt. Timothy Davis of Aberdeen, Wash., Special Tactics Combat Controller, Feb. 20, 2009 

Senior Airman Daniel Sanchez of El Paso, Texas, Special Tactics Combat Controller, Sep. 16, 2010 

Senior Airman Mark Forester of Tuscaloosa, Ala., Special Tactics Combat Controller, Sep. 29, 2010 

Technical Sgt. John Brown of Tallahassee, Special Tactics Pararescueman, Aug. 6, 2011 

Technical Sgt. Daniel Zerbe of York, Pa., Special Tactics Pararescueman, Aug. 6, 2011 

Staff Sgt. Andrew Harvell of Long Beach, Calif., Special Tactics Combat Controller, Aug. 6, 2011 

Capt. Matthew Roland of Lexington, Ky., Special Tactics Officer, Aug. 26, 2015 

Staff Sgt. Forrest Sibley of Pensacola, Special Tactics Combat Controller, Aug. 26, 2015 

Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin of Hookstown, Pa., Special Tactics Combat Controller, Nov. 27, 2018 

Today, there are about 1,000 Special Tactics operators who combine the core skills of special operations forces with the tactical integration of the world’s greatest airpower, working to find unique solutions to ground problems. They are the most decorated community in the Air Force since the end of the Vietnam War, with one Medal of Honor, ten Air Force Crosses, and 44 Silver Stars. 

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