Army Capt. Andrew Patrick Ross, Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric Michael Emond and Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan J. Elchin died from injuries sustained when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device in Andar, Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, according to a Defense Department press release.
Elchin, 25, of Hookstown, Pennsylvania, was assigned to the 26th Special Tactics Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, according to the release.
Three service members and one American contractor were wounded in the blast. All four were evacuated from the scene and received medical care. Their identities were not released.
The incident remains under investigation, the release states.
"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," said Col. Nathan Prussian, commander of 3rd Special Forces Group, in a separate press release from Army Special Operations Command.
Ross had more than seven years of service in the Army. This was his second overseas tour, according to the release. His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal (2nd award), 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, the Army SOCOM release states.
Emond had more than 21 years of military service, having served in the Marine Corps and the Army, the release states.
This was Emond's seventh overseas tour. His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal (3rd award), Purple Heart (2nd award), Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, NATO Achievement Medal (2nd award), Afghanistan Campaign Medal (4th award), NATO Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon (2nd award), 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, the SOCOM release states.
Elchin was a special tactics combat controller who deployed to Afghanistan in August and was embedded with a U.S. Army Special Operations Force Operational Detachment-Alpha team, according to a press release from the Air Force's 24th Special Operations Wing. His 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," Lt. Col. Gregory Walsh, commander of the 26th Special Tactics Squadron, said in the release. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dylan's family, fiancée, 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, according to the release.
"[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's said in the release. "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, according to the release.
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.
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at email@example.com.