CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — “He didn’t just light up the room for me, he powered the sun,” Ashley Southard said.
On Wednesday, New 2 spoke with the wife of one of the five Fort Campbell soldiers who was killed in a helicopter crash overseas.
According to the U.S. European Command, the aircraft suffered a “mishap” during a routine air refueling mission. Sgt. Andrew “Andy” Southard, 27, of Arizona, was one of the heroes who lost their lives.
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“We were it for him, and he was it for us, and we lived just so much in love,” Ashley said.
Ashley said her husband, Andy, was devoted to being a great father and serving our country.
“It was his dream to be in the 160th and fly with them and to be a helicopter crew chief with them and he got to die living his dream and I think there is a bit of comfort in that. He died doing what he loved,” Ashley said.
The tragic crash came just months after nine Fort Campbell soldiers died in Kentucky when their two Black Hawk helicopters collided back in March. Chief Warrant Officer 2 Zachary Esparza was Andy’s best friend.
“He died on a training flight that my husband flies every day when he’s home, so I was overwhelmed with that grief back then,” Ashley said.
Ashley poured her grief into a poem that she wrote to honor Esparza and the other eight soldiers. Now, it is also a love letter to her husband: “He cried when I read it to him, but I never thought I’d have to share it for him.”
Now through his story, Ashley hopes to carry on his legacy: “He loved us, love being a dad, he loved our daughter, she looks just like him she has his smile and that’s how I honor him by living forward and trying to give her the love I know that he would give.”
If you would like to help the Southard family financially, a GoFundMe can be found here.