MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
More than 300 Marines with 2nd Law Enforcement Battalion gathered at the Protestant Chapel aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune Sept. 12 for a memorial service to honor the sacrifice of Sgt. Joshua Ashley.
Ashley, a military working dog handler with 2nd LEB, was killed by an improvised explosive device during combat operations in Helmand province July 19.
With his family and friends in attendance, Marines reflected on Ashley’s life and remembered him as a compassionate, kindhearted and devoted Marine.
“He was selfless, he was caring— but even more than that, Sgt. Ashley loved,” said Lt. Col. Eric Young, the commanding officer of 2nd LEB. “He loved what he did and he loved his dog Serius. But most of all, he loved his family and he loved [his fellow Marines].”
In his remarks, Young encouraged Marines within the battalion to emulate Ashley’s compassion towards fellow Marines and carry that compassion with them equally, in combat and in garrison.
During the ceremony, Marines with the Military Working Dog Platoon recalled serving alongside Ashley. Each Marine praised Ashley for his character, both as a Marine and as a friend.
“He was a loving guy—a guy that loved his family, loved his Marines, and loved his job,” said Cpl. Ryan G. Hale, a military working dog handler with 2nd LEB. “That love carried over for his passion to be the best Marine I have ever known.”
Lance Cpl. Kent Ferrell, a military dog handler who served alongside Ashley, remembered him as a great friend. Ferrell said there was nothing Ashley couldn’t do and there was nothing he wouldn’t do for a friend.
“Josh was a titan in every sense of the word,” said Ferrell, with 2nd LEB. “He was not only powerful, but he also had an incredibly strong heart.”
During the service, Ferrell sat with Ashley’s partner, a 5-year-old German shepherd named Serius. For the entire ceremony, Serius laid on the floor staring at a portrait of Ashley in his dress blues. Serius was by Ashley‘s side the day he died.
“Between a man and a dog, there is a really strong relationship,” said Ferrell. “However in a combat environment, that bond is multiplied. Serius and Sgt. Ashley had a strong bond—each trusted one other and they worked as a team. I’m sure he’ll always remember Sgt. Ashley, just like the rest of us.“
To end the ceremony, Ashley’s military police badge was retired and presented to his parents.
Ferrell said Ashley’s death has brought the platoon closer together. He said he has learned many lessons from Ashley’s death and he hopes people will remember and honor Ashley’s sacrifice in the future.
“If we can carry his legacy on through our lives, I think that would be the greatest respect we could give him.”