Don Ashley has been in the sportfishing business for decades. The owner of Pierpoint Landing in Long Beach comes from a family of fishermen and his sons Jamie and Ritchie follwed in his footsteps and currently operate Long Beach Bait Company.
Ashley's youngest son JD decided to take a different direction with his life. At the age of 18, he enlisted in the army and did a tour in Iraq. He recently reenlisted and shipped out to Jalalabad Afghanistan. Jalalabad is the largest city in eastern Afghanistan as well as its social and business center of activity. Jalalabad is connected by roads with Kabul and Peshawar in Pakistan. All the trade between the two nations pass through this city. Because of the many traffic accidents, the highway between the city of Jalalabad and Kabul is considered to be one of the most dangerous in the world.
On JD's first day on Patrol, a vehicle behind him was blow up by an IED (improvised explosive device). JD and his fellow soldiers came under heavy fire. "Bullets were flying everywhere," he said. " Fortunately, there were no fatalities this day.
There isn't a moment in the day when I don't think of him (JD)," said Don Ashley. In fact, I think and am grateful for all the men and women who are sacrificing for our freedom."
Last Monday, Ashley received the following e mail from his son:
"Hey dad, haven't heard from you in awhile. I hope everything is ok. Life basically sucks pretty bad over here right now, we just had 4 guys die on the 23 rd........really sucks, everyone is really bummed out and angry about it. I really miss you and everyone else back home. please tell grandma, Ritchie and Jamie that I said hello and I hope they are doing well also."
JD's wife Samantha sent an e-mail to Don this morning saying that JD said he had something to do and that he would not be communicating with him for a while.
"It's hard; I know he is in harms way doing what he has to do for you and I to have our freedom, said Ashley.
JD's hope is that what he and his fellow soldiers are doing makes a difference and that the US will see it through to the end. "There is nothing worse than loosing a son or daughter for a cause that is left unfinished or seems like it was for nothing," said the elder Ashley.
So while you and I go fishing or barbeque with our family and loved ones today, JD and thousands of soldiers like him will be on patrol guarding and ensuring our freedom.
Don Ashley reminds everyone to stop what they are doing at 3 pm today for one minute and remember all those, past and present who have sacrificed so much. One final thought from Ashley, "I do feel sorry for the bad guys with JD on Patrol today."
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