One of the three U.S. service members who were killed in Afghanistan this week when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device was on his seventh deployment, according to the U.S. Army.
Army Sgt. 1st class Eric Michael Emond, 39, of Brush Prairie, Wash., had been in the Marines and Army for 21 years and was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, based at Fort Bragg, N.C. He was seriously wounded during his fifth deployment and spent seven months at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
The Boston native was awarded two Purple Hearts and three Bronze Stars, among a slew of decorations, the Seattle Times reported. He left behind a wife and three children.
On Wednesday, Gov. Jay Inslee issued a statement on Emond’s death.
“Trudi and I join all Washingtonians in mourning the loss of Sgt. 1st Class Eric M. Emond,” he said. “We send our deep condolences to his family and friends, and thank him for his military service and his ultimate sacrifice for our country.”
Emond and two others -- Army Capt. Andrew Patrick Ross, age 29, of Lexington, Va., and Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan J. Elchin, age 25, of Raccoon Township, Pa. -- died of injuries suffered in the attack in Afghanistan's central Ghazni Province, southwest of the capital, Kabul.
As a special tactics combat controller, Elchin was trained to immediately deploy into combat operations, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. He was waiting to marry his girlfriend Jordan Stigers after he returned to the U.S.
Aaron Elchin said his brother always had an interest in serving in the military.
“By the time he was a teenager he was reading up on it, and he was in the Boy Scouts prior to that,” Aaron Elchin said. “He’s just always had that mentality that that was something he was going to do.”
"Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin made the ultimate sacrifice for our commonwealth and our nation," Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf wrote on Twitter. "Please join Frances and me in keeping his family and all who knew him in our thoughts."
Ross graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., in 2011.
U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte praised Ross in a statement, mentioning that the soldier came to him seeking an appointment to the military academy, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
“He was a remarkable candidate for nomination and shone brightly during my interview with him,” Goodlatte said. “His leadership on the soccer field and his example when leading graduating seniors from the class of 2011 during the Pledge of Allegiance are examples of his dedication and commitment to excellence.”
Susan Dittman coached Ross in soccer when he was younger. She remembered him being very sociable and respectful.
“The last thing he said to me was, ‘I love you, Sue,'” Dittman said. “He was just so thoughtful that way.”
She last saw him several years ago at a wedding.
The attack appears to have been the deadliest against American forces since June 2017, when an Afghan army soldier attacked and killed three U.S. soldiers.