MOON TOWNSHIP (KDKA) – In a procession of blue and white buses, they came. More than 120 uniformed members of the United States Air Force.READ MORE: Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Discusses District's Future With City Council Members
They came from the 26th Special Tactics Squadron out of Cannon AFB in Clovis, NM which 25-year-old Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin called his stateside military home. They also came from the 24th Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Fl the headquarters of Elchin’s unit.
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A short time later, led by the Patriot Guard, on their motorcycles despite the cold, the Elchin family arrived at the Impact Christian Church.
Elchin’s brother, Aaron, says the Air Force has been a constant support here in the U.S. and from Dylan’s unit in Afghanistan, “Air Force people have been reaching out to us.”
Aaron Elchin spent eight years in the Army. He was scheduled to deploy to the war zone once, but the deployment was canceled before they shipped out. He was not happy when Dylan got his deployment orders.
“The whole entire time, I was concerned when he went over, just like my mom, I didn’t want him to go over cause I always knew there was that chance,” he said.
But the Elchin brothers knew Dylan was where he wanted to be.
Ryan Elchin says, “He loved what he did, I know he loved what he did.”
Aaron says social media and FaceTime allowed them to stay in regular contact.READ MORE: COVID-19 In Pittsburgh: Pitt Center For Vaccine Research Explains How Variants Form And What They Mean
“I always checked in on him and always asked to have you slept, are you eating, how’s your mindset and we always kept tabs with each other. There was still always that worry in the back of my head,” says Aaron.
Elchin was killed when a Taliban roadside bomb blew up the armored vehicle he was riding in. Three other members of his unit also died including 24-year-old Jason McClary of Export, Westmoreland County. McClary’s mother, Joylynn, attended the memorial service for Elchin and met Dylan’s mother, Dawna.
During the memorial service, Elchin’s commanders praised his dedication to the USAF and to his job.
Something that comes as no surprise to brother Aaron, “I would say his sense of duty was his prime focus. It’s what he lived for it was what his heart beat for it is what he strived for, it was his main goal in life.”
Ryan Elchin says, “He wouldn’t want us to be sad. He would want us to remember all the good times we had with him and his jokes, he’d want you to remember, his smile.”
Dylan Elchin spent six years in the Air Force and was highly decorated, He and his fiancé Jordan were to be married when he returned home next month.
During the memorial service, Dylan’s grandfather, Ron Bogolea, spoke for the family.
He said his grandson was all about putting others first and says the tenants of Boy Scouts stuck with Dylan into his adult life. He went line by line through the Scout Law giving examples, Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Brave, Clean and Reverent.
He finished by saying, “If Dylan were here today he would want us to happy, live your life to the fullest. He was a man who knew what he wanted to do and had the guts to do it. But most of all if he was here today he would shout out loud, God Bless the United States of America.”MORE NEWS: State Officials Warn Identity Theft Is Aiding Fraudsters Make False Unemployment Claims
Elchin will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery but not until his unit comes home from Afghanistan and can be there for the service.