Air Force Staff Sergeant Dylan Elchin
June 11, 1993 – November 27, 2018
Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin served in special operations as a JTAC Qualified Combat Controller with the US Air Force in the 26th Tactical Squadron. He was a recipient of the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Commendation with Valor, and many other medals. Dylan was one of four U.S. service members killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province in November 2018. He was a 2012 graduate of Hopewell High School in Beaver County. Dylan was considered family by almost everyone around him. He genuinely made a positive impact in some way, shape, or form with anyone who crossed his path.
Submitted by Ron Bogolea, Dylan’s grandfather
Dylan was born June 11, 1993 and grew up as a young boy in Brighton Twp, PA. Dylan was just like any other kid in the neighborhood who you’d see playing outside. Dylan was a happy, fun-loving person who liked to make others laugh. As a Boy Scout he loved the outdoors and roughing it. Scouts taught him about honoring our country and our flag.
In eighth grade when Dylan saw the Twin Towers fall on 9/11, his life was forever changed. His attitude was that he wanted to “protect the ones he loved.”
During his early teens he read many books about Navy Seals, Rangers, and special operations in the armed forces. While in his senior year of high school, he enlisted in the Air Force with hopes to be a JTAC Combat Controller. Dylan trained for over a year and was the only one of the 30 to pass the muster of his recruiter who had been training him. Combat Controllers are a very elite unit with a 2 year training program, where 85-90% do not complete the course. We were very proud when Dylan made it through. Three years into a 4 year enlistment, Dylan still had not been deployed. He re-upped his enlistment for 6 more years just so he could get his JTAC certification so he could be deployed. Dylan was killed in action defending our freedom on November 27, 2018 along with three other service members when their vehicle hit an IED in Afghanistan.
Dylan was a warrior in combat and responsible to bring all home safely. He served in special operations as a JTAC Qualified Combat Controller with the US Air Force serving with the 26th Tactical Squadron. He was a recipient of the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Commendation with Valor for saving the lives of American soldiers while exposing himself to heavy machine gun fire and RPG attacks, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Combat Action Medal, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the NATO Medal.
We will always celebrate our memories of Dylan remembering stories from his service brothers about his jokes and pranks he would play and the way he kept his team focused and lighthearted.
Submitted by Patrick Doyle, Dylan’s comrade
Amongst the team, Dylan was a big character guy. While he wasn’t the biggest in physical size, he always carried that big belly laugh, contagious positive attitude, and was always smiling. Even as a new guy, always getting the worst jobs, he kept the spirits of his teammates up with that quirkiness he had.
Dylan loved sports… well, watching them that is. He was always in tremendous physical condition and he trained relentlessly and looked like he would be quite an athlete; however, hand to eye coordination was not his strong suit. In one instance, Dylan was playing outfield for our squadron softball team. There was a lazy pop fly to him, and instead of using his glove to catch the ball, he tried to use his chest. Everyone got a good laugh out of that, even Dylan, but you never saw him in the outfield again. Even though Dylan was not the best at sports, he always showed up to play. To him it was more than just a game, it was about spending time with his brothers and teammates. A couple of days before a mission, after a Thanksgiving dinner in Afghanistan, Dylan played a football game with the Special Forces unit he was attached with. Dylan somehow managed to jam his finger in an easy pick-up football game, again just another performance of his superb athletic ability. Dylan held his head up high, and trucked on through the game, and his next mission. This just further reinforced the dedication he had with being a good teammate, and the importance of team camaraderie.
As young guys on the teams, Dylan’s teammates remember him making a great impression on them. He was a phenomenal shot, and all around good at his job. The character trait that really stood out, was humility. Amid being great at his job, he would never brag. Instead of telling others how well he performed his job, he showed them; as well as helped the new guys develop their skills.
In Dylan’s first deployment he ended up in an area that turned into quite a hotspot. For his first mission on the deployment, the Taliban had recently overthrown Ghazni City and Dylan’s team went in on a crisis response mission. For several days, they were involved in multiple close range, 30m or less, engagements. Fights went on for days on end and Dylan’s team says he continued to crush it and clear white space, and never quit until the area was secured and his team was out safe. Dylan was a tough dude. His truck took an RPG and after getting his physical cleared, was right back at it.