By Mickey Winfield: PNT Staff Writer
Memorial Day was especially poignant for one Portales couple whose son was home on leave from a tour in Iraq.
Kody Ashmore, 20, a U.S. Marine Corps lance corporal and Portales High School graduate, returned home May 19 after nearly nine months in Iraq.
“It’s such a relief,” his mother, Onika, said. “I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s just a relief to have him back here.”
Kody Ashmore’s division was deployed in late August near the border between Iraq and Syria, in the al-Qaim region of Iraq along the Euphrates River. It was his division’s job to watch for weapons coming across the border.
“Me and six other guys would go on a patrol through the city,” Kody Ashmore said. “We would walk through the city for about an hour or two hours just basically keeping security within the city.”
Wayne Ashmore said he watched the news every day while his son was deployed.
“He would tell me what town he was in, and I’d look it up on the Internet,” Wayne Ashmore said. “You always watch the news to see what was going on.”
It was just the opposite for his wife.
“Watching the news was the worst thing in the world,” Onika Ashmore said. “Because you hear all the time about soldiers getting killed so that was my big thing— I couldn’t stand to watch the news.”
Kody Ashmore said one of the best things about being home is that he doesn’t have to worry about what may lurk around the corner.
“(It’s nice) being able to drive down the road and not worry about blowing up,” he said. “You never knew what was going to happen from day to day.”
The Marine leaves Sunday for California, and then it’s back to Iraq sometime in January, but there is some business to attend to with fiancee Megan Hillis before he goes back to Iraq.
“I’m definitely getting married,” Kody Ashmore said.
While Onika Ashmore is looking forward to her oldest son’s wedding, she is not looking forward to his deployment back to Iraq.
“I’m dreading that already. I want to hold him like he’s my little baby again and not let him go,” Onika said. “But he’s more than willing to go back and do what he has to do.”
Kody Ashmore said he would tell his mother not to worry.
“I said a prayer every day and thought about him constantly,” Onika said. “I’m very proud of him for what he’s done. Not very many people can do that. Just the fact that he made it through basic (training) and is over there fighting the war — I can’t believe it’s my son.”