NORTH CAROLINA - For some people, Memorial Day means time away from work and a longer weekend to hang with friends and family. But for others, it's a time to reflect on, celebrate and honor those who have served or are still serving our country each and everyday.
Laura, a service member in the North Carolina National Guard, reflects back on her best friend, Ashley White-Stumpf, who lost her life in October of 2011 during combat operations in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. Ashley, an Ohio native and NC National Guard member, was working with special forces and rangers while in the country.
In the words of Laura:
As the years pass, it is sometimes hard to believe that she is not here. Ashley was someone who quickly became my friend as I transitioned out of my active duty service and into the guard. Ashley was the type of friend that always spoke true and was so kind. She embodied dedication and had a spark for life that was palpable.
Ashley was tragically taken while in Afghanistan when the assault force she was supporting triggered an improvised explosive device. Ashley was assigned to the 230th Brigade Support Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, North Carolina National Guard in Goldsboro, N.C. and served as a member of a Cultural Support Team attached to a Joint Special Operations Task Force in Afghanistan.
But for Laura, Ashley is more than just a fallen combat veteran. She is a daughter, a sister, a wife, an aunt, a husky lover, a friend and a peaceful soul that will forever be missed.
"Today and all days, I will remember her not just for the sacrifice she has made for this country but for the person she was and the lives she has changed past and present," Laura said.