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455 ELRS honors fallen vehicle operator

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Whitney Amstutz
  • 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Nearly six years have passed since news of vehicle operator Senior Airman Ashton Goodman’s death traveled from the fields of Afghanistan to the doorstep of those she loved. Goodman, 21, was killed when a roadside improvised explosive device detonated underneath the Humvee she was driving while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom May 26, 2009.

A memorial was dedicated in Goodman’s honor and placed at the vehicle operations compound July 24, 2010. Now, as the 455th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron draws down, Airmen developed a way to maintain Goodman’s memory.

Honoring a promise never to forget the fallen, members of the 455 ELRS made the decision to convert her memorial into a shadowbox, preserving the legacy of their fellow Airman and conveying appreciation to Goodman’s family.

“Senior Airman Goodman was a vehicle operator working with a provincial reconstruction team in Panjshir,” said Senior Master Sgt. Derick Crosdale, 455 ELRS Deployment and Distribution Flight superintendent. “She was here on her second tour, an assignment for which she volunteered.”

During her deployment, Goodman spent a significant portion of her time outside the wire supporting engineering missions in the Panjshir Province and developed a passion for providing mentorship to the Afghani women she encountered. Years later her reputation as a selfless and exemplary Airman is still renowned throughout the squadron.

“As Operation Enduring Freedom ended and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel began coinciding with the drawdown of American forces in Afghanistan, the vehicle operators here thought it would be an honor and a tribute to do something for Senior Airman Goodman and her family as we prepare to pack up and leave,” Crosdale said.

With this objective in mind, a team of 455 ELRS Airmen led by Tech. Sgt. Christopher McDaniel, began construction on a shadowbox that would both illuminate Goodman’s desire to touch the lives of those around her, as well as pay homage to her sacrifice.

“We had a photograph of Senior Airman Goodman etched locally and we were able to work with people on base to get the patches as well,” said Senior Airman Darell Despojo, 455 ELRS Traffic Management. “General Kelly [Brig. Gen. Mark Kelly, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing commander], gave us the coins and Staff Sgt. Gonzales [Staff Sgt. Jeremy Gonzales, 455 ELRS Traffic Management], constructed the box itself.”

Though Goodman’s life is the epitome of a life interrupted, her death serves as a continual reminder to the living.

“The thing is to never forget,” Crosdale said. “Never ever forget, because she paid the ultimate sacrifice and we’re here to carry on. As long as there is a fight left to fight, we’ll never forget.”