“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather, we should thank God that such men lived.”
The United States Special Operations Command had three of their commandos killed in an IED attack in Afghanistan on Tuesday. The bombing killed Captain Andrew Patrick Ross, 29, of Virginia, Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan J. Elchin, 25, of Pennsylvania and Sergeant First Class Eric Emond of Fall River, Massachusetts who all died after the vehicle they were in was struck by an improvised explosive device in the Ghazni province of Afghanistan.
Ross and Emond were Green Berets from the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (3rd SFG) and Elchin was an Air Force a special tactics combat controller, embedded with the Special Forces A-Team directing close-air support aircraft, and delivering destructive ordnance on enemy targets.
It has been a bloody, costly week for our Special Operations forces, last week Sergeant Leandro Jassos of the 2nd Ranger Battalion was killed on an operation, also in Afghanistan where he may have been shot by friendly fire from Afghan commandos who are trained and advised by our Special Operations Forces.
But up here in New England, the loss of Emond struck a particular tough chord with the people. First, he was a local, one of them and graduated from Durfee High School in the tough town of Fall River, Massachusetts about 50 miles south of Boston.
Emond was a veteran of 21 years of service. He joined the Marine Corps and was a Scout Sniper during the Marines first incursion into Afghanistan 17 years ago. He later got out joined the Army and became a Green Beret. He was on his seventh combat tour when he was killed in action this week.
Back in 2009, Emond was severely wounded by an RPG in an ambush in Afghanistan’s Paktika Province. As he struggled to get healthy enough to pass a medical board, he was back home in Boston in 2010 when he and a few other combat veterans helped get the United States’ first Iraq/Afghanistan War Memorial built in Boston’s seaport. It is an obelisk and plaque that lists the name of every one of the troops killed during the wars.
Sadly enough, Emond’s name will now be added to the memorial that he helped to make happen.
The war memorial project raised over $2 million dollars in private funds as well as state grants. The entire project was entirely organized by local veterans like Emond. The Massachusetts Fallen Heroes Foundation is now dedicated to providing support to Gold Star Families and educating schoolchildren about their sacrifices.
One hard-boiled Boston Police sergeant, Michael Brown worked with Emond on the war memorial. Brown was also a Marine who fought in Iraq. He had this to say about the Green Beret. “When I tell my kids stories about bravery and courage, it’s going to be guys like Eric Emond I’m talking about,” he told reporters.
“You’re injured, you fight to get back, you keep going forward,” Brown said. “That’s real courage. They keep going back and back for a country that seemingly has found other things to put on the front page.”
Massachusetts Fallen Heroes director Dan Magoon, who also fought in Iraq, said that “He (Emond), was instrumental in getting this off the ground,” Magoon said. “The mission has come full circle. All we can do now is honor his legacy and support his family.”
“He was an unbelievably caring man,” Magoon said. “He cared about this country, he cared about his service, most of all, he cared about his wife and his kids — his family.”
Greg Kelly, a Boston firefighter and fellow Green Beret who is the co-founder of the Massachusetts Fallen Heroes and once served in the same task force as Emond in Afghanistan in 2009, said, “He’s a great American. He served his country his entire adult life. He served his community. He was doing something he loved. He died doing something he loved.”
“He was a soldier’s soldier, a marine’s marine,” Magoon told local television reporters. “He wore two different uniforms throughout his whole adult life serving this country and he cared more about other people than himself.”
Andrew DelRossi Biggio told Boston 25 News that he met Emond while interning at the Department of Veteran’s Affairs in 2009 while Emond was rehabbing from his brain and spinal injuries and the two became close.
“We became friends,” DelRossi Biggio said. “For a year straight, we worked with other veterans in the state creating organizations that are still running today, helping to memorialize veterans from the Commonwealth who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
“He didn’t have to go back in the Army after he was wounded,” DelRossi Biggio said. “He chose to. Now three more tours later, he sacrificed his life for us.”
“He motivated me. I looked up to him,” DelRossi Biggio added.
His awards and decorations include three Bronze Star Medals, two Purple Hearts, the Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, two NATO Achievement Medal, four Afghanistan Campaign Medals, Army Good Conduct Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, two Overseas Service Ribbons, National Defense Service Medal, Special Forces Tab, Ranger Tab, Combat Infantry Badge, Combat Action Badge, Parachutist’s Badge. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, and Meritorious Service Medal.
He is survived by his wife Allie and three young children at Ft. Bragg, NC.