Emily Baucum, News 9
CLEVELAND, Oklahoma - An Oklahoma soldier serving in Afghanistan was presented the Purple Heart this week for wounds she received December 18, 2011 when her convoy was hit by an improvised explosive device.
U.S. Army Spc. Ashley Jones becomes the first amputee in the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. Now, the whole town of Cleveland is anxious to get her home.
Despite her injuries she is in good spirits, laughing and joking with friends from her unit. Now, the whole town of Cleveland is anxious to get her home.
Specialist Jones broke her back and pelvis in the attack, and doctors were forced to amputate her right foot above the ankle.
The National Guard says she's the first amputee in the 45th Infantry. Now, the whole town of Cleveland is anxious to get her home.
From the businesses on Broadway to the school hallway, everyone in Cleveland knows Ashley Jones and her smile.
"My nickname for her was Jonesy. I'd see her coming down the hallway and I'd say, 'Hey Jonesy! How are you doing?' She would always respond with a big smile," said Cleveland Mayor Ron Shipman.
Shipman used to teach high school math -- and he calls Specialist Jones one of his favorite students. She won trophies playing basketball and softball.
Specialist Jones was just 17 years old when she joined the Oklahoma Army National Guard to help pay for college.
After one semester at TCC, she deployed to Afghanistan as a combat medic. Her family expected her back in Cleveland January 2, 2012, so the town was shocked to read a post on Specialist Jones' Facebook page:
"Hey everybody thank you for your prayers. If you don't know I was in an IED blast and lost my right foot and broke my back and pelvis."
"We're a town of 3,200 and for one of them to go down and be injured, it does hit the town hard," Shipman said.
Specialist Jones is now being treated in Germany where doctors say -- just days after losing her right foot -- she's already walking around on crutches.
"This isn't going to slow her down. She has such a spirit. Such a good outlook on life," Shipman said.
She received the Purple Heart award for her resilience, and spent time with fellow Oklahoma soldiers after the ceremony.
She showing off that trademark smile everyone hopes will once again grace the streets of Cleveland very soon.
"Ashley I just want to tell you that we love you and I'm so thankful that you survived and did not lose your life. This is just a bump in the road. We really so appreciate you and we love you," Shipman said.
Specialist Jones will leave Germany and fly to San Antonio Friday. Her father says the family is ready to meet her in San Antonio as soon as she gets there -- and says spending Christmas Day with her would be the best gift he could ever ask for.