The fatality happened almost exactly five years after President Obama officially repealed the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.
One of the six American service members who was killed on Monday by a suicide bombing in Afghanistan is believed to have been the first openly gay service member to die in combat since the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
U.S. Air Force Maj. Adrianna M. Vorderbruggen, a 36-year-old from Minnesota, was among the victims of the attack, which took place at Bagram Air Base in eastern Afghanistan. According to ABC 7 News, Vorderbruggen was from the Bay Area in California and was married to Heather Lamb. The couple had a 4-year-old son.
Vorderbruggen was killed just one day after the five-year anniversary of President Obama officially repealing the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, which precluded openly gay and lesbian service members from serving in the military.
While Vorderbruggen was not the first out troop ever to be killed, she appears to have been the first to die since the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Sue Fulton, president of an organization called Service Members, Partners, Allies for Respect and Tolerance for All (SPARTA), reflected on the significance of the repeal in a statement sent to BuzzFeed News.
Many LGBT Americans have given their lives in military service to the nation. Thanks to the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ Major Vorderbruggen’s wife will be honored rather than hiding in the shadows. This tragedy is a sobering reminder of why it’s important that our service members and their families be recognized for who they really are; gay, straight, transgender, all deserve honor for their sacrifice."
The Military Partners and Family Coalition posted a note to Facebook recalling memories of Maj. Vorderbruggen and her family.
In the post, she is remembered as "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."
According to ABC 7, Lamb received her wife’s flag-draped casket at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Before the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal, she would not have been able to do that.