A Tribute to Ashley

    WASHINGTON – Army 1st Lt. Ashley White died on the front lines in southern Afghanistan last weekend, the first casualty in what the Army says is a new and vital wartime attempt to gain the trust of Afghan women.

    White, like other female soldiers working with special operations teams, was brought in to do things that would be awkward or impossible for her male teammates. Frisking burqa-clad women, for example.

    Her death, in a bomb explosion in the Taliban heartland of Kandahar, underscores the risks of placing women with elite U.S. special operations teams working in remote villages.

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First Lieutenant Ashley White died in Afghanistan last weekend along with Sgt. 1st Class Kristoffer B. Domeij, of San Diego, Calif., and Pfc. Christopher A. Horns, of Colorado Springs, Colorado. Like so many of our troops, they were killed by an IED.

Ashley was a true warrior. A member of a Cultural Support Team, she worked in support of Special Operations units and exposed herself to danger on a regular basis. She was a member of only the second class of this elite female team and you can bet that in the decades to come she will go down in history as a trailblazer for women warriors everywhere.

Ashley, by her family’s account, loved being in the military. What struck me most about the obituary in the Fayetteville Observer was the pride her family felt in her service. It made me think that perhaps we have reached, or are in reach of that point where service is service and the value of sacrifice is not measured by what chromosomes you possess.

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“It’s not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or when the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worth cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat”.– Theodore Roosevelt