The Phoenix Reporter and Item (http://www.phoenixvillenews.com)

Ash follows in the military footsteps of his family


By Candice Monhollan, For 21st Century Media

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

If you closed your eyes as you approached the party by the old stone house outside of Phoenixville on the night of Saturday, June 17, it felt like a step back in time.
The music of Glen Miller and the Big Band & Swing era floated on the warm June air as family and friends came to celebrate Jared Ash before he heads to basic training on July 1.
What makes this more special is the fact Ash comes from a family full of military veterans.
It was a continuation of my fathers beliefs to serve the country, be a good citizen and to participate, said Thomas Ash, Jareds great uncle. Its five generations that Ive been exposed to (joining the military). Its amazing.
Fresh out of high school, Jared joins the likes of his cousin uncle, great uncle, grandfather, and great grandfather just to name a few.
Jared had thoughts about following in his familys footsteps, but it was not until his cousin, Staff Sgt. Russell Richards, planted the idea in his head.
In my 11th grade year, that was when my cousin asked me if Id like to join, Jared Ash said. I hadnt made up my mind which branch I wanted to join.
Richards, who has been in the National Guard for 12 years, started as a recruiter about a year ago.
Its the same thing with all high schoolers, Richards said. They have that inkling and you just grab them and let them know, Hey, this is what you wanted to do a little a bit, right? Yeah. Well, youre doing it now.
With the family history Jared has, hes been able to get plenty of tips on what to do and how to stay out of trouble.
One such tip which Richards has supplied comes in the form of getting letters from home.
Youre not supposed to open your mail at unauthorized times, Richards said. I got a birthday card that made noise and I opened it up when I wasnt supposed to. The noise got me told on and then everybody had to do pushups because of that.
It is a story which has passed around the family and may have been slightly altered by the time it reached Jared.
Ive heard stories where every time you get a letter, before you can read it, you have to do 10 pushups, Jared said. If Im getting 50 letters a week, its going to be good for me, but its going to kill me.
Despite all the playful jabs, Jareds family most dressed in camouflage clothing for the party knows this is a bittersweet moment. The worry is always there, but they are also delighted to have another military member in their ranks.
Im proud of him and a little nervous, too, said Sam Ash, Jr., Jareds father. I want him to do well and I think this is the right thing for him.
Sam, Jr., thinks the experience will be good for his son, but wasnt expecting him to be gone for so long.
I kind of thought he needed a little discipline, Sam, Jr., said. He signed up for six years. I just wanted him to do some pushups, you know?
As of the start of July, Jared will begin his trek south to Fort Benning in Georgia for basic training, and he has been preparing himself for what is ahead. He has taken trips south before, but always in the winter, so the heat and humidity of a Georgia summer will be one of the first challenges he will face.
It will be a new thing for him, Sam, Jr., said. Hes not much for the heat.
Im doing a lot of pushups, sit-ups and pull-ups, Jared said. I went to drill a couple times. People down there who have already been through basic training give you an idea of what youre going to go through.
Aside from missing his family and friends, Jared admits to there being more he will long for.
All the family events like this, he said. All the good times like this party. There will be a lot Im missing out on.
Jared and his family plan to constantly write letters to stay in contact even with the pushup rumors floating around.