EMMAUS, PA, USA U.S. Army SGT, 630TH MILITARY POLICE COMPANY, BAMBERG, GERMANY BAGHDAD, IRAQ 03/03/2007
For a few moments Wednesday, Jane Drumheller turned away from her grief, speaking strongly and steadily as she remembered her daughter, SGT Ashly Lynn Moyer.”She definitely was a hero.” The note of pride in her voice was unmistakable as she unfolded the all-too-familiar chronology of bad news from the war zone: the late-night visit from an Army officer, the crushing news, the sudden rush of memorial preparations and visits from friends.
Moyer was killed when an explosion detonated the fuel tank on her vehicle, creating a fireball. Among the soldiers who responded to the bombing was Moyer’s boyfriend, Jake Wells, a member of her unit who tried to rescue her but was turned back by the flames and rounds of ammunition exploding in the heat. ”That’s what’s most heart wrenching to me,” said Moyer’s father, Michael Moyer. ”Can you imagine that? The girl you love is in there, and not being able to do anything.” ”I just talked to her last week,” her father said. ”They were coming home in June and planning two weeks in Pennsylvania and two weeks in Texas, where Jake Wells is from. They were coming here because he was going to ask me for her hand in marriage.”
Jane Drumheller described her daughter as a tomboy with a girlish side, as fond of dolls as she was of softball. ”She would always rise to the occasion.” She was serious when she needed to get a job done, but when it was time to have fun, she was a chuckle.”
Bob Moyer her grandfather, served in the Marines for 24 years, surviving Iwo Jima, the Korean and Vietnam wars. Her grandmother, Irene Moyer was in the WAAC Marine Corps Women’s Reserve during World War II, and her father was also a Marine. Moyer joined the Army Reserve, inspired by her family’s military pedigree, and after graduating in 2003, she attended the Army Military Police School graduating in March 2004. Her first assignment was Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, guarding enemy combatants held since the war in Afghanistan began. ”They were some of the real bad boys,” her father said. ”Taliban.”
Moyer then deployed to Baghdad and Moyer took an instant liking to her job as a driver. Her father sent her rearview mirror dice and other gag gifts to dress up the interior of the armored vehicle. On the exterior, she mounted a toy Incredible Hulk head, which other soldiers would rub for luck before missions. Moyer’s father said his daughter believed strongly in the American cause and had recently extended her enlistment for a year. ”She really liked what she was doing,” he said. ”The MPs over there are a very close family.”
Listening to SGT Ashly Lynn Moyer’s family recall memories of her growing up, one thing above all else comes through: Moyer may have been a woman small in stature but she was huge in heart. Jean Garrison, Moyer’s aunt and Samantha Straude her cousin held back the tears as they talked about SGT Moyer. “She always thought she was so cool in those sunglasses,” pointing to a photo Moyer took inside her Army vehicle. The women spoke of Moyer’s sense of humor, how she loved to make people laugh no matter how ridiculous she looked. Moyer was someone who liked to give to others and wanted to make a difference, and who chose joining the military as a way to do so.
Staude spoke of Moyer like a big sister. “She was supposed to come home. She wasn’t supposed to die there.” Both Staude and Garrison described Moyer as a self-sufficient, strong woman. “Her big thing was ‘Who says girls can’t drive trucks?'” Staude said. “She was a peanut,” Garrison said. “Such a tiny girl who could do so much.”