Female special ops unit breaks barriers

Posted at 8:11 PM, Apr 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-15 17:15:56-04

Male and female soldiers alike confronted many unique challenges being in a Muslim foreign country during the Iraq war, but there were many things men in uniform could not do.

And that's where an elite group of women came in, and one soldier in particular inspired them to make it through.

Every day Deborah White goes into one of the most special rooms in her house.

“That was her room as she grew up. I guess it’s kind of like a memorial room,” she said.

Her daughter Ashley White, known for being the shy one, surprised her family when she was selected to be on a special secret ops team in the army in 2010 to go to Afghanistan.

“She was very quiet, very reserved, you always had to kind of look to see if she was still around,” White said. “It did catch me by surprise because I knew that the military was very demanding”

But Ashley didn’t disappoint.

“And when I found out how well she did to even get to where she got to, we were amazed.”

The first of its kind, the group of 20 female rangers was able to do something their male counterparts could never do.

"This is a remarkable team,” said Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Author of the book Ashley’s War: The Untold Story of a Team Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield. She continues, “male soldiers no matter how good they had got at fighting the war…they couldn’t access half the population, men could not speak to Afghan women, so they needed women shoulders to be out there, they needed them to be speaking to women, searching women’s quarters, and this is all while women officially were banded from ground combat.”

She said she found interests in the story because the women’s strong comradery.

“Ashley’s War is really a story of friendship, it’s a story of love, but mostly it’s a story of service, and courage and valor,” said Tzemach Lemmon.

The book is named after Ashley, who lost her life on patrol, from an underground bomb. But even in death, she motivated the rest to press on.

“After Ashley’s passing, there’s no question that that this group of really exceptional young women really were cemented as family,” said Tzemach Lemmon.

White, she’s proud of her daughter and the team because their sacrifice opened up many doors

“They’re in the history books because they’ve, they broke the brass ceiling. They opened doors. And I hope women who follow her are able to do the things they want to do in the military now.

Ashley White was just named as one of the first  to be featured in the future National Museum of the U.S. Army in Virginia. And the paperback version of the book Ashley's War was just released this week.