I recently finished a book and came on here to tell you about it. It occurred to me that the last two times I wrote something here, it was about running friends and Des Linden winning the Boston Marathon. Today I’m talking about another badass woman, so maybe that’s what this blog is about now haha.
If you’ve been here before, you know I read a lot. I read 52 books in 2016 and set a goal to read 30 this year (I’m already done with 26, so it’s very likely I will surpass that goal!). I read all kinds of things, from novels to professional development to auto-biographies and more.
I can’t remember how I heard about the book “Ashley’s War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield”, but when I did, it piqued my interest so I did what I also do: added the book to my Amazon wishlist. I keep a running list of things I like or want/need to buy so I can remember them, but also so I’ve got a ready-made Christmas list when my family requests on every year.
The book chronicles the all-female Cultural Support Teams created in 2010 by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. These teams put women on the battlefield alongside Army Rangers, Green Berets, Navy SEALs, and other special operations teams in Afghanistan.
The women were there, with an interpreter, to search and speak with women and children. In traditional Afghan culture, American men would not be permitted anywhere near Afghan women (and the children are usually with the women). Bringing female soldiers into this unique role allowed the Army forces to reach a huge portion of the population they had previously been unable to gather intelligence from.
To put it plainly, these women are no joke. Their physical fitness was incredible, their bravery unmatched, and their ability to maintain their femininity even in the harsh conditions of war was remarkable. They all knew they were making history in these new roles, as women had been previously barred from roles that took them anywhere near active combat. They took this responsibility seriously as they knew they were paving the way for future women in the military who wanted the opportunity to serve equally alongside men.
The book is named after Ashley White Stumpf, one of the CSTs, but the book highlights the journeys of many of her fellow CSTs. I was fascinated to learn that Ashley and I actually have something in common: we both went to Kent State. In fact, we were there at the same time, though we never met (also ironic is the fact that 90% of my classes took place in White Hall, but it obviously wasn’t named for Ashley). We are also both Ohio natives, and both have a strong sense of adventure and doing our part in the world’s work.
I won’t share any more about the book here, because you really ought to read it yourself. I have a copy you’re welcome to borrow, or you can obviously get it anywhere books are sold as well! 🙂
Kent State actually hosts a 5k each year in tribute to Ashley and to raise funds for a scholarship in Ashley’s name. It looks like it usually occurs the last Sunday in April so one year I’d like to make it back to Kent to participate.
Until next time…#flashesforever