Friday, July 20, 2012

R.I.P. - Cpl. Joshua R. Ashley

DOD Identifies Marine Casualty

            The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

            Cpl. Joshua R. Ashley, 23, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., died July 19 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.  He was assigned to 2nd Law Enforcement Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

            For more information media may contact the II Marine Expeditionary Force Public Affairs Office at 910-451-7200.

Neil Nisperos, Staff Writer
Created:   07/19/2012 05:09:24 PM PDT

Family and friends are grieving for Marine Cpl. Joshua R. Ashley, of Rancho Cucamonga who was killed in Afghanistan on Thursday.

John Ashley, Joshua's father, said his son was killed by hostile enemy action - the victim of an IED, or an improvised explosive device.

"Josh died a hero, protecting this nation," John Ashley said on Thursday.

A makeshift memorial has been set up at Ashley's military banner on the northeast corner of Haven Avenue and Arrow Route. Family and friends will honor Ashley at a candlelight vigil tonight at 10 p.m. at the banner site.

Plans are ongoing for memorial service, which will likely take place about a week from next Monday, according to John Ashley.

"Josh was a very independent person," said John Ashley. "When he would set his sights on something, whether it was for work or in the Marines, whatever he went after, he got. Josh always strived to be the top and number one in his class."

Ashley, who had aspirations to join law enforcement as a K-9 handler, was a Military Police officer with the II Marine Expeditionary Force, 2nd Law Enforcement Battalion, and was selected to be a dog handler for special operations. Ashley was with his military dog Sirius, a 4-year-old male German Shepherd when he was killed. John Ashley said Sirius is accounted for and survived the incident.

John Ashley said his son was killed during a night operation in Helmand Province. Stephen Demuth, 23, a close friend of Ashley's, was among friends who were at a candlelight vigil on Thursday night.

"Since he joined, he always wanted to go to Afghanistan and he wanted to be a canine handler," Demuth said. "He wanted to go to Afghanistan and he wanted to serve his country, so he met his goals of becoming a canine handler. He served overseas, but unfortunately, he payed the ultimate sacrifice."

Chelsea Kelley, a close friend of Ashley's plans to attend the candlelight vigil tonight. The friends attended all of their high school dances

"It's not real yet. It's hard," Kelley said of losing her friend. "He was the sweetest person I ever met. He put everyone else before himself." Ashley enlisted in the Marines in 2008 after graduating from Etiwanda High School in 2007. He lettered all four years of high school in water polo and swimming, and was captain of the water polo team.

After boot camp, Ashley was deployed to Okinawa, Japan, from 2009 to 2011, and was stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina from 2011 to when he was deployed to Afghanistan in May of this year. Ashley was friends with Etiwanda High School graduate and fellow Marine Cpl. Robby Reyes, who died during a military training exercise in Morocco on April 11.

Rancho Cucamonga "has taken a big hit," John Ashley said.

"These were the good kids that didn't get into trouble, that played sports in high school and stayed out of trouble," John Ashley said. "These were the kids that had a good head on their shoulders and were going places."

Ashley is also survived by his mother Tammie Ashley, and brothers John Ashley and Jordan Ashley.

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