News: Soldiers Mourn One of Their Own
Story by Master Sgt. Michele Hammonds
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – More than 500 Soldiers from the 1st Sustainment Command (Theater) and other units came out to honor a fallen comrade in a memorial service, Nov. 16, at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.
Spc. Ashley Sietsema, an Illinois National Guard combat medic from River Grove, Ill.,died from injuries sustained in a single vehicle accident while conducting a routine medical transfer of a patient from Camp Buehring to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Nov. 12. She was promoted to specialist posthumously.
Capt. James Dodd, commander of the 708th Medical Company (Ground Ambulance), spoke at Sietsema's memorial service. Dodd said Sietsema touched all of their lives and they were blessed to have known her and she will be missed.
"We are a family at the 708th and losing a family member is never easy," Dodd said. "But Ashley has left her hand print on our hearts and she touched each and every one of our lives. Even though today she is not physically with us, she will never leave our hearts or our minds. Ashley will not be forgotten and we will keep her spirit with us forever."
Close friend, Spc. Jessica Bibeau, shared a special bond with Ashley. Bibeau and Sietsema deployed together with the 708th Medical Company to Kuwait, Sept. 3. Bibeau, 21, said they often laughed and cried together as she spoke about Ashley and her husband, Max at the memorial service.
"Those two were so head over heels in love, you could see it shining through them. Upon returning home, she planned to continue school, remarry in Mexico to include her family, and start a family of her own. She had so many goals, and just barely got started," said Bibeau, of Midlothian, Ill.
Before closing Bibeau asked the audience at the service, "How do you say good-bye to your best friend? Just as she would say, 'You can't.' She wouldn't want us to mourn, she would want us to celebrate her life. Carry her memories and spirit always. She would never forget any of us, so let's never forget her," said Bibeau as her eyes filled with tears.
Sietsema was assigned to the 708th Medical Company, North Riverside, Ill. The 20-year-old Soldier was only a few months into her deployment, and leaves behind a new husband. Ashley met and married her husband, Max William Sietsema April 27, 2007, in Cook County, Chicago. Ashley was attending Northern Illinois University studying to become a nurse. She deployed to Kuwait as a Soldier with the Illinois National Guard.
Sietsema joined the Army in December 2004, completed her basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., and her advance individual training at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Her awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with "M" device, National Defense Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon.
After the service as 708th members filed outside the chapel, many talked about Sietsema and the impact she had made on their lives. Spc. Amber M. Hernandes, Spc. essica Evan M Aviles and Bibeau spoke about fond memories of Sietsema. Bibeau
summed it up best, "Ashley was probably the best person you could ever meet," she said.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The accident occurred on Monday, Nov. 12, Kuwait time. Sunday, Nov. 11, U.S. central time.