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Soldier returns to duty after suicide attack

 

Written by U.S. Army Spc. Richard Daniels Jr.
Task Force Bastogne Public Affairs

Fort Campbell KY, 101st Airborne DivisionBastogneNangarhar Province, Afghanistan – “We were doing a traffic control point when a female walked up and detonated herself 10 meters from me,” said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Derek L. Ashman.

On June 21st, Ashman, of San Diego, platoon sergeant of 1st Platoon, Company D, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, Task Force No Slack, was on the Sholtan Bridge in the Shigal District when he was struck by shrapnel from an insurgent’s suicide vest in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province, leaving scars he bares today.

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Derek L. Ashman of San Diego, platoon sergeant of 1st Platoon, Company D, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, Task Force No Slack plays volleyball with local Afghan children after a Sept. 26th key leader engagement. (Photos by U.S. Army Spc. Richard Daniels Jr., Task Force Bastogne Public Affairs)

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Derek L. Ashman of San Diego, platoon sergeant of 1st Platoon, Company D, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, Task Force No Slack plays volleyball with local Afghan children after a Sept. 26th key leader engagement. (Photos by U.S. Army Spc. Richard Daniels Jr., Task Force Bastogne Public Affairs)

“When it first happened, I closed my eyes. When I opened them, there was a ball of fire. I ran out because I thought I was on fire,” he said.

Unaware of his injuries, Ashman hurried to his Soldiers.

He ran across the bridge before the smoke cleared, said U.S. Army Spc. Jeremy R. Tetrick of Glennville, GA. “[Another Soldier and I] pulled him into an Afghan National Police check point. I started treating Sgt. Ashman and got him patched up the best I could.”

U.S. Army Sgt. Christopher L. Dixon of San Antonio, section sergeant, immediately called a helicopter for medical evacuation.

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Derek L. Ashman of San Diego, platoon sergeant of 1st Platoon, Company D, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, Task Force No Slack provides security during a Sept. 26th key leader engagement. (Photos by U.S. Army Spc. Richard Daniels Jr., Task Force Bastogne Public Affairs)“He was sluggish after it happened,” said Tetrick. “He was dazed and confused, but he was still in charge; he was still our platoon sergeant.”

Within minutes, the helicopter arrived and took Ashman and several other blast casualties to the nearest forward operating base for treatment.

International Security Assistance Forces face dangers everyday in Afghanistan. From small arms fire to improvised explosive devices, they brave the perils to create a better and more secure Afghanistan. Returning to duty after coming face-to-face with a suicide bomber is not a story every Soldier can tell like Ashman could.

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Derek L. Ashman of San Diego, platoon sergeant of 1st Platoon, Company D, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, Task Force No Slack secures a gate during a Sept. 26th key leader engagement. (Photos by U.S. Army Spc. Richard Daniels Jr., Task Force Bastogne Public Affairs)Ashman happily reunited with his Soldiers September 22nd after undergoing two months of treatment at the Brooke Medical Facility on Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

“It’s who I am, my job, my Soldiers,” said Ashman. “I mostly want to be with them. I never quit anything.”

Amazed by Ashman’s capabilities after receiving his injuries, one Soldier described him as “Superman.”

“He is defiantly dedicated,” said U.S. Army Pfc. Steven T. Scofield of Floral City, FL, automatic rifleman. “He is still the same old Sgt. Ashman.”

It feels great to have the original platoon sergeant back, he said.


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