Air Force Major Adrianna Vorderbruggen was among the six US troops killed this week in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan. A tragedy at any time, but more deeply felt at this Christmas time. Facebook accounts tell of a wonderful Adrianna who is survived by her wife, Heather, and your son Jacob. She was just 36 years of age. Adrianna was part of convoy on a routine security detail Monday (21 December) north of Kabul when a man drove up on a motorcycle and denoted the suicide vest he was wearing.
Rise in the Ranks
Adrianna obviously showed the leadership and skills that saw her rise through the ranks. She would have graduated from Air Force training with a second lieutenant rank and graduated to first lieutenant. Her first class record of duty would have seen Adrianna become a captain and finally the honour of being given the rank of major which is just below that of lieutenant colonel. Her career was certainly one of incredible accomplishment.
A Fight Against ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
Adrianna was not content to secretly rise up the ranks when there was an issue of inequality and fear amongst her gay sisters and gay brothers. For countless years, the LGBTI community has served in the military in fear of being exposed and subsequently given a dishonorably discharge. She was a pioneer in the protest against the military’s former “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. In fact, she was one of the first openly gay service members to marry after the policy was ended in 2011. The group Military Partners and Families Coalition confirmed her death on its Facebook page.
Wife Heather A Solid Partner
Adrianna is believed to be the first openly gay Air Force officer to die in combat and is the third female member of the Air Force to die in Afghanistan. Heather and Adrianna were active in the organization Military Partners and Families Coalition. It is sad that Adrianna died just ONE day short of the 5th anniversary of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Many LGBTI personnel serving in the military owe much to Adrianna, Heather and others who fought for the dignity and rights of their serving men and women.
Statement on the Death of Major Adrianna Vorderbrugen From the Military Partners and Families Coalition
We lost a member of our military family yesterday. Our friend, Air Force Major Adrianna Vorderbruggen, was killed while serving in Afghanistan. All military families understand that part of serving means the potential of sending their loved one into harms way, but no amount of understanding can reduce the pain of loss when they do not return. Major Vorderbruggen leaves behind her wife, Heather, and four year-old son, Jacob. As we try to find comfort in our community during this time we also extend our love and compassion to the five other U.S. military families who lost a loved one yesterday.
Major Vorderbruggen was a person who lived for her family and for her country. She was one of the most friendly and laid-back people you could ever hope to meet and was an accomplished airman, a great athlete, and most of all, a wonderful mom. She leaves an indelible legacy of strength and selflessness to all those touched by her life.
As today marks five years since the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was signed, we honor the anniversary with somber hearts and the knowledge that families like Major Vorderbruggen’s no longer serve in the shadows. We can take small comfort in the fact that they will be extended the same rights and protections due any American military family as they move through this incredibly difficult period in their lives.
Adrianna, Heather, and Jacob were part of our MPFC family nearly from the start and took great pride in being members of the military community. When their marriage was finally legally recognized, they celebrated by signing up Heather and Jacob as Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) dependents, taking a shopping trip to the commissary with the dependent ID card, and scheduling their first doctor’s appointment on base for Jacob.
This family is the reason that the anniversary of repeal matters. The upswell in support and prayers offered by military families everywhere to Major Vorderbruggen’s is unique to those who know what it means to serve. This is what community is about and this is why your MPFC family is unfailingly here for you.
To Heather and Jacob:
Adrianna is still with you in spirit. She remains that oak tree for you both. Her self-sacrifice in the line of duty has served the people of Afghanistan. Because of her presence and the presence of others, young girls can go to school.