Sergeant Joshua Ashley was the kind of friend a friend would love to have. We never got the honor of meeting Josh, but as his mother spoke about his life and who he was, we can’t help but feel cheated by missing out on knowing such a great man whose sole desire in life was to protect others. Having witnessed the atrocity that happened on September 11th, 2001, and having family who were in the building, but were able to make it out ok. Josh never forgot. He decided to face evil head-on.
We are put on this Earth to do one of two things. Either we help people or we hurt people. Whatever accolades are gained along the way are meaningless when our final day comes. What most remember about those who have passed is how they lived their life. Josh’s mother told us how even from a young age, Josh would stick up for other kids when they were bullied. He lived out his dream to protect others every day of his life. Despite an incredible High School career where he captained the Water Polo and Swim Team, even also the unsponsored Hockey teams he played for, while holding down a job, and getting good enough grades to go to any school, Josh decided to join the United States Marine Corps instead.
He wanted to be a police officer. He wanted to be the first line of defense against the evil in this world, but at only 18 years old, he would have to wait three years, till he became 21. If he enlisted, he could be a police officer at 18. The decision for him was simple. Off he went, earning the title of Marine. Eventually, Josh worked his way into being a dog handler. He then deployed in May of 2012 with elements from MARSOC to the Helmand province.
It was there, in July of 2012, while stepping down into a ravine Josh stepped on an IED. The blast took his life. While we mourn his passing, we are thankful that such a man lived among us.
Each year, Josh’s mother Tammie and Sirius (Josh’s former partner, and awesome dog), make shirts in honor of Josh. Each year they donate the proceeds to a charity. This year that charity is Mission K9. Mission K9 assists with adoption and medical issues for working dogs from military, police and private military contractors.