On Monday, the American public got a stark reminder that the war in Afghanistan really isn’t over, following a deadly suicide bombing at Bagram Air Base. The U.S. deaths included Air Force Major Adrianna Vorderbruggen, an openly gay officer who spent years trying to repeal the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
According to The Daily Beast, Vorderbruggen, pictured above at right, was leading a security patrol near Bagram Air Base about 25 miles north of Kabul when a suicide bomber drove a motorcycle into their group and detonated an explosive vest. It was the deadliest attack on U.S. forces of 2015, killing six Americans and wounding three more.
Maj. Vorderbruggen was 36 years old and part of the USAF’s Office of Special Investigations, also known as OSI. She is not only believed to be the first openly gay female active duty service member to die in combat, but she is also the first openly gay USAF member to do so and the first female OSI agent killed while executing their duties.
Vorderbruggen was said to be highly patriotic, dedicated to her family, a strong athlete and a very laid back and affable person.
Coincidentally, the Department of Defense announced Vorderbruggen’s death on the five year anniversary the official repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Vorderbruggen was among the first in the U.S. military to get married after the end of the controversial policy, pioneering a new path for gay and lesbian soldiers, sailors, airman and marines that have had to live a guarded and often split life in fear of being kicked out of services.
For years, according to The Daily Beast, Vorderbruggen worked to try and repeal the discriminatory policy. Vorderbruggen leaves behind a wife, Heather, and a young son, Jacob.
A Facebook posting from Military Partners and Families Coalition stated:
“We do find comfort in knowing that Heather and Jacob are no longer in the shadows and will be extended the rights and protections due any American military family as they move through this incredibly difficult period in their lives.”
Vorderbruggen’s death also comes as the Defense Department is opening all combat jobs to females, another controversial decision that has its detractors.
Also killed during the attack were Air National Guard Technical Sergeant Joseph Lemm who was a veteran New York Police Department detective. Staff Sergeant Louis Bonacasa, a member of the 105th Airlift Wing out of New York, who served alongside Lemm, also died in the attack.
The other three airman killed were Staff Sergeants Michael Cinco, Peter Taub, and Chester McBride, all served with Vorderburggen in the Office of Special Investigations.
These deaths come as Afghanistan sinks further into chaos following the withdrawal of almost all U.S. combat forces from the country. Not only is the Taliban resurgent but ISIS is slowly gaining more of a foothold in the war-torn country.
With 2,378 American lives lost and nearly 15 years spent in-country, the fate of Afghanistan remains very much in doubt.
Contact the author at Tyler@jalopnik.com.
Top photo via Military Partners and Families Coalition, Memorial shots via USAF