Fallen Hero honored in Nation's Capital

  • Published
  • By Wayne Amann
  • AFOSI Public Affairs
The lone female killed during the suicide bomber attack which claimed the lives of four Air Force Office of Special Investigations special agents and two Security Forces defenders near Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan Dec. 21 was laid to rest at the nation's most sacred shrine Jan. 19.

Special Agent (Maj.) Adrianna M. Vorderbruggen was accorded full military honors during her interment at Arlington National Cemetery on a bitterly cold morning in Washington, D.C., that did not deter approximately 150 mourners from paying their last respects to the Fallen Hero.

The remembrance for Vorderbruggen began with a funeral service at the Memorial Chapel, Fort Myers, Va. From there the funeral motorcade drove to the cemetery where the Airman was honored with a missing man formation flyover by three Air Force F-15 fighter aircraft, a 21-gun salute by the Air Force Honor Guard and the presentation of American Flags to Vorderbruggen's immediate family members by AFOSI Commander Brig. Gen. Keith M. Givens.

The scene shifted to The Women in Military Service For America Memorial auditorium at the Ceremonial Entrance to Arlington Memorial Cemetery. It's the only major national memorial honoring all women who have defended America throughout history. Vorderbruggen's patriotism and bravery are now a part of that legacy. 

"What they were doing was righteous," said Special Agent (Lt. Col.) Pamela Alley, Vorderbruggen's commander at the 9th Field Investigations Squadron, Eglin Air Force Base Fla., when recounting how Vorderbruggen led her deployed foot patrol team into harm's way. "We are fighting an enemy who is ruthless, and she was leading from the front, which is where every commander should be."  

Givens remarks to the overflow auditorium audience gave some historical context to Vorderbruggen's passing.

"Seventy years to the day Adrianna died, another great American died, General George S. Patton. Not too many of his quotes are repeatable in public but one really does answer the question about are we here to mourn or to honor an American hero?" Givens said. '"Let me not mourn the person who died fighting, rather let me thank God such a hero had lived."'   

Vorderbruggen was posthumously awarded three of the military's most prestigious combat decorations: the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart and the Air Force Combat Action Medal.

"These are not medals a service member wants to earn," Givens said. "But, Adrianna still went out and faced the danger. The gift she left are Americans still serving."

Following two slide presentations celebrating Vorderbruggen's life, family members took turns sharing their thoughts about their departed loved one. One of the more poignant moments was the memory of Adrianna's father, Joseph Vorderbruggen, which captured the spirit of his daughter.

"Two days before she died Adrianna told me, 'I love what I'm doing. I'm making a difference for the people I'm serving.'"