Over eight deployments, he dropped from Special Forces helicopters onto mud-brick homes, ran through doors breached by explosives, and hunted the enemy night after night in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Winschel has been steeled by combat, but he cried when he heard that Sergeant First Class Eric Emond, a friend and the father of three young girls, had been killed in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb.
Emond, a native of Fall River, died with two other Special Forces soldiers in the Nov. 27 explosion. His death came on his seventh deployment overseas, a testament to his patriotism and the military’s unprecedented reliance on Special Operations Forces.
As America’s longest war drags into its 18th year, the burden is falling heavily on a small number of elite fighters who are being sent into battle over and over, leaving loved ones behind each time. This year, 7,500 Special Operations Forces were deployed in 133 countries around the globe, and many have been deployed a dozen times or more.