Fallen Combat Controller honored in operator strength competition

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Victor Reyes
  • 24 SOW Public Affairs

The World’s Strongest Operator competition was hosted in Allen, TX on Sept. 9. The event honored U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin.

Elchin, a Combat Controller with the 26th Special Tactics Squadron, Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico was killed in action Nov. 27, 2018.

WSO is a strength competition designed to challenge participant’s physical limits through demanding circuits, while paying homage to their fellow fallen operator.

“We want to honor Dylan and his team, making his name last forever. As well as our nation’s operators and highlight their talent and hard work.” said Jordan Betz, 26th STS strength and conditioning coach.

Betz came up with the idea for WSO and members of the 26th STS were immediately on board. “The response of year one was so overwhelming not only in Special Operations Forces but the first responder community. Everyone wanted to honor Dylan and compete in his name,” added Betz.

More than two dozen U.S. Air Force, Army Special Forces and Special Tactics personnel, firefighters, FBI, SWAT and law enforcement agents and pilots participated in the competition.

“Dylan loved to lift and some of my best memories of him are in the squadron gym. He’s the guy everyone loved having around,” recalled U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Craft, a Combat Controller with the 26th STS and friend of Elchin.

“I knew it was going to be the most unique and honorable way that we could keep Dylan’s legacy alive and show his family the community will always remember him,” added Craft.

Members participating tackled five events, testing their strength through a variety of high-caliber challenges. Exercises chosen by the WSO panel demonstrate the power and endurance needed to be an elite operator.

SOF personnel must be ready at anytime, anywhere. Elchin was no stranger to these types of physically and mentally demanding challenges.

Technical Sgt. James Tarbutton, Airborne NCOIC for the 24th Special Operations Wing Special Tactics Training Squadron and a close friend of Elchin, reflected on his memory recalling, “Elchin was never the biggest, fastest, or strongest. However, he was a competitor, always gave it a hundred percent, and had a motor that would not quit.”