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​Air Force SSgt. Dylan Elchin, a USAF combat controller assigned to the 26th Special Tactic Squadron at Cannon AFB, N.M., was killed in action in Afghanistan when an IED struck the vehicle he and two Army Special Forces soldiers were riding in. Courtesy photo via USAF.

A USAF combat controller and two US Army Special Forces soldiers were killed on Tuesday when an improvised explosive device struck their vehicle in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, the Pentagon announced Wednesday.

The blast killed SSgt. Dylan J. Elchin, 25, of Hookstown, Pa, who was assigned to the 26th Special Tactics Squadron at Cannon AFB, N.M. He is the first airman killed in action in Afghanistan in 2018, and the first since a suicide attack killed six airmen near Bagram Airfield in late 2015.

The blast also killed Army Capt. Andrew Patrick Ross, 29, of Lexington, Va., and Sgt. 1st Class Eric Michael Emond, 39, of Brush Prairie, Wash. They were both assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Elchin deployed in August, and he was embedded with an Army Special Operations Force Operational Detachment-Alpha team, directing close air support.

"Dylan had an unusual drive to succeed and contribute to the team. He displayed maturity and stoicism beyond his years, and was always level-headed, no matter the situation,” Lt. Col. Gregory Walsh, commander of the 26th Special Tactics Squadron, said in a news release. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dylan's family, fiancé, and friends. He will be sorely missed, but never forgotten.”

Elchin enlisted in the Air Force shortly after graduating from Hopewell High School in Pennsylvania in 2012, and immediately began training to be a combat controller. He graduated Airman Leadership School and received several awards, including the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

“[Dylan] was the guy everyone wanted to be around. In even the worst of times, he had a smile on his face and a way to lighten things up,” a special tactics officer and former team leader of Elchin’s said in the release. “He was always doing whatever it took to get the job done.”