Air Force Maj. Adrianna Vorderbruggen was one of the six troops killed in Afghanistan earlier this week. Vorderbruggen was one of the first openly gay women in active service in the military, as well as one of the first to be wed in a same-sex ceremony.
Her death on Monday was nearly five years to the day that “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was repealed. In 2012, Vorderbruggen married her longtime partner, Heather Lamb, and many activists considered their marriage a pivotal moment for openly gay troops. The couple already had a son.
The Daily Beast notes:
“When their son was born, Vorderbruggen, still restrained by “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” could not tell anyone about his impending birth. She had to guess when to take time off to coincide with [the] birth. To the military at the time, she was not married; at best, she had a partner.”
On Wednesday, Vorderbruggen’s widow and son, Jacob, will greet her body at Dover Air Force Base. “Our consolation is, we know she wanted to be there, she believed in and loved her work, and she was doing important work on behalf of the Afghans and our nation,” Lamb told NBC News.
Vorderbruggen, 36, was part of a convoy outside of Bagram Airfield in Kabul. A man on a motorcycle drove up to the convoy and detonated a suicide vest. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Her death marks the third time that a female member of the Air Force has been killed in action in Afghanistan.
Image via AP. Headline has been edited since the original post to clarify that Vorderbruggen was not the first gay woman service member in the U.S. military, but rather the first to be KIA.