One of the three U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan earlier this week was a Massachusetts native.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric Emond, 39, was a Fall River native who went to Durfee High School. He also lived in Dorchester from 2010 to 2013, according to Congressman Seth Moulton's office.
Emond, who most recently lived in North Carolina, leaves behind his wife and three young daughters.
“He was a soldier’s soldier, a marine’s marine,” said Dan Magoon, executive director of Massachusetts Fallen Heroes. “He wore two different uniforms throughout his whole adult life serving this country and he cared more about other people than himself.”
Magoon says Emond helped start Massachusetts Fallen Heroes, a nonprofit that helps Gold Star families and fellow veterans, because he wanted to give back.
“He was the bedrock of the organization and building what we have today,” Magoon said.
While Emond was back in Massachusetts rehabbing years ago, he also helped with the design of the fallen hero memorial in Boston’s Seaport district.
“He had already been injured, he had already been blown up, he had already had a chance with death that he came back from and he was supposed to get out of the military and went back,” Magoon said.
Another Gold Star brother says it’s painful to believe Emond’s name will now be etched in the same memorial he helped create.
“I think when they built this family organization, monument I don’t think he ever expected to be a part of it in this way,” said Jay Farrar, who lost his brother Sgt. Andrew Farrar in 2005 on his 31st birthday in Iraq.
Yarmouth Police Deputy Chief Steve Xiarhos, whose son Nicholas was killed while serving in the military, is a board member of the Massachusetts Fallen Heroes and shared this statement on Emond's death:
"One of the fallen heroes is my friend. A tried and true young Patriot and Warrior who was very kind and supportive to us when we lost Nicholas. Now he is with Nick and his family is our family," Xiarhos' statement read in part. "As America's longest war continues in Afghanistan, we ask that you do not publicly question or criticize our leaders and role in this war.”
Both Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh issued statements Wednesday, expressing their condolences to Emond’s family and honoring his service to our country.
"Sergeant Emond was a highly decorated soldier and the Commonwealth will be forever grateful for his bravery and honorable service to the country throughout seven tours of duty overseas,” Governor Baker said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
"I offer my deepest sympathies to the families of all three service members who gave the greatest sacrifice serving our country, including our own Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric Michael Emond," Mayor Walsh said.
Emond was killed by a roadside bomb on Tuesday. Also killed were Army Capt. Andrew Patrick Ross, 29, of Lexington, Virginia, and Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan J. Elchin, 25, of Hookstown, Pennsylvania. Three other service members and an American contractor were wounded.
They were killed in the Ghazni province, an area where the Taliban is resurgent. The Taliban claimed the attack, saying a U.S. tank was completely destroyed. It was the deadliest attack against U.S. forces in Afghanistan this year.
"Massachusetts lost a son and hero in Afghanistan," Moulton said on Twitter. "SFC Eric Emond served his country bravely and honorably both overseas and at home."
Emond and Ross were assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, based at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Emond had previously served in the Marines.
Elchin was assigned to the 26th Special Tactics Squadron, based at Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico.
The U.S. and NATO formally concluded their combat mission in Afghanistan in 2014, but still provide close support to Afghan forces and carry out counterterrorism operations. Some 15,000 American forces are currently serving in Afghanistan.
The Taliban carry out near-daily attacks on Afghan forces, and in August the insurgents overran parts of Ghazni, leading to days of intense fighting before they were driven out. Ghazni was the only one of Afghanistan's 34 provinces where parliamentary elections could not be held in October. Voting there has been postponed for a year.