PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — They were brothers in arms riding in the same armored vehicle in Afghanistan last week when a huge roadside bomb decimated their vehicle.
Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin, 25, died almost immediately.
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Twenty-four-year-old Sgt. Jason McClary, of Export, was flown from the scene and eventually to a military hospital in Germany. There he underwent multiple surgeries before dying Sunday morning.
“He certainly stood out,” Kiski Area High School Principal Chad Roland said. “I don’t know if he ever had a bad day and if he did, he didn’t let anyone know it.”
At Kiski Principal Roland says, Jason was working hard on mastering a trade.
“He was part of our career center. He studied machine tool and he was passionate about it, and he was passionate about the work he did here,” Roland said.
While at Kiski, he also met Lilly, a fellow member of the class of 2013. They would marry after high school and have two sons now, ages 3 and 1.
Jason McClary says on his Facebook page intro, “I love my wife and my 2 sons. They are my everything.”
As McClary was flown to Germany, his wife and sons were flown there too. They were with him when he passed.
This was not his first time in harm’s way. Sgt. McClary was also deployed in 2016-17 as part of the 101st Airborne serving in Iraq and leaving Lilly at the family’s military home at Ft. Campbell, Ky. He was deployed to Afghanistan this past spring. During his tours, he collected two Purple Hearts and numerous other awards and commendations.
Fellow soldier Kristopher Bramlett in a tribute on Facebook said, “You loved going out on mission and being behind the mini-gun. I wish we could have gone out on a million more together because you loved your job.”
That does not surprise Principal Roland.
“I think that speaks to that positiveness and excitement to just do what he does and whatever job he was going to have, he was going to do it to the best of his ability and give everything he had and enjoy doing it,” Roland said.
Bramlett finished his tribute this way.
“You were my soldier and I wish I could have brought you home, but God needed you more. Rest easy, brother. We’ve got it from here,” he wrote.