A sister marching on in honor of her fallen brother
By Rob Starkey
"Wanted to finish what her brother had started and make him proud," said Tilley.
Thu, 01 Aug 2013 22:14:17 GMT — FORT JACKSON (WACH) -- Music, laughter and excitement filling the air at Fort Jackson Thursday. Families from around the country gathered to see hundreds of soldiers graduate from basic training, but for one family it was a day that haunted them with memories. In January 2011 Rhonda Tilley's son Jordan Chase packed his bags and headed south. The 19 year old from Maine was sent to Fort Jackson for boot camp. In February Chase fell ill, and was diagnosed with H1N1, or Swine Flu and Pneumonia. The young recruit fought the illness for several weeks but later died. "On Valentines Day we got the call that he was in ICU and not doing so well, so my husband and I came down and stayed with him in the hospital. The following Sunday he passed," said Rhonda Tilley. Two years later Tilley reliving the emotional rollercoaster of losing her son, when her daughter Ashley told her she was joining the National Guard. "Wanted to finish what her brother had started and make him proud," said Tilley. "It was something that I needed to get over and overcome," said Pvt Ashley Chase. The Maine mother says her heart still beats fast thinking about that conversation and had mixed emotions about sending a second child to Fort Jackson for boot camp, so she contacted the men who supported her family after her son's death. "I found her in her battalion and checked in to make sure how she was doing and then I sent an E-mail and made a phone call back to mom," said Col Bryan Hernandez. Hernandez says Ashley did very well at Fort Jackson. While Tilley and her family never thought they'd return to South Carolina, Ashley finished with high honors in the walk across Hilton Field. "It's just like a motivation, it was more like all right well I need to make him proud, he went through the same exact thing I did, so you know it's just moving on," said Chase. Moving on with happy memories on the same field their son and brother last marched on.
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