GI Called Quiet and Loving
By Hilda Muņoz, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer. July 26, 2003Ashley Ashcraft quit tuning in to the news after the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom to reduce her anxiety and concern about her husband, who was fighting with the Army's 101st Airborne Division.
"I had to stop watching the news because I would just get freaked out," Ashcraft said Friday in a phone interview. "I stopped watching because I was going crazy. I couldn't settle down until I knew and sometimes it would take hours before I found out my husband was OK."
She had been unaware that three members of her husband's unit had been killed this week. On Thursday, she learned that her husband was one of the fatalities when a servicewoman came to the home she is staying at in Castaic.
"I wouldn't let [her] tell me," she said. "I was screaming."
Army Cpl. Evan Asa Ashcraft, 24, of West Hills, was killed Thursday at 1:45 a.m. Iraqi time when his convoy came under attack in northern Iraq, said Army spokeswoman Martha Rudd.
Ashley Ashcraft said the servicewoman who came to the door told her that her husband and two others were killed in a Humvee that was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.
"It was an ambush," Ashcraft said. "They were all killed as well."
The 23-year-old widow described her late husband Friday as a reserved person who protected and watched over her.
"Let's say he was at a party, he would stay close to his friends," said Ashcraft. "He was quiet to the people he didn't know, he was reserved. But once he knew you, he would embrace you."
He loved his family and was especially close to his younger brother Andrew, she said.
"They did everything together and they looked identical, too," she said.
She declined to say where she first met the tall, brown-haired, blue-eyed man she married, or what his first words to her were.
"Let's just say that we just kind of fell in love when we first met" seven years ago, she said. "Every day after that we were together every single day."
Evan Ashcraft enlisted in the Army in January 2000 and was assigned to the 101st, Rudd said.
After he returned from basic training two years ago, the couple decided to their parents' displeasure to elope in Santa Barbara, she said.
The newlyweds mapped out their lives together. She earned her bachelor's degree from Austin Peay State University in Tennessee, near where he was stationed. After the Army, she said, he planned to return home and join the Los Angeles Police Department. She planned to teach elementary school.
Ashcraft last spoke to her husband on July 3. She received two letters from him shortly before he died.
"He was telling me that he had some brushes with death, that he knew he was going to stay alive," she said. "He just sounded very optimistic about coming home, seeing me."