Kent State Grad Killed in the Line of Duty Honored Through 5K Run, Book Release and Hollywood Movie

Kent State Grad Killed in the Line of Duty Honored Through 5K Run, Book Release and Hollywood Movie

Army 1st Lt. Ashley White-Stumpf always had a smile on her face. Those who knew her will never forget the tenderness and incredible strength behind it.

White-Stumpf graduated from Kent State University and was commissioned as an Army officer through Kent State’s Army ROTC in 2009. She was killed in action in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on Oct. 22, 2011.


“She was physically fit beyond anybody,” said Kent State’s ROTC Operations Officer Joe Paydock. “She was also so pleasant, so easy going, so wonderful to be around, just a dynamite smile and just a dynamite personality.”

That perfect combination placed Ashley on a Cultural Support Team (CST), made up exclusively of women who gather intelligence, conduct searches of Afghan women and children, build relationships with them and brake down cultural barriers. The elite team is attached to Army Rangers and Special Forces that search Afghan villages. White-Stumpf would perform duties that male soldiers could not without offending Afghans.

“Physically, she was more than capable of handling it, and yet her compassion and softness was the perfect match for dealing with these women and children,” Paydock said.

But in 2011, White-Stumpf became the first CST soldier killed in combat when the assault force she was with triggered an improvised explosive device (IED).

“It took my breath away,” Paydock remembers. “It was tragic, tragic.”

But out of the tragedy, new life is emerging.

A book, “Ashley’s War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield,” is coming out April 21st. The book will serve as the premise for an upcoming Hollywood movie, possibly starring actress Reese Witherspoon.

A few days prior to the book release, on April 18th, the fourth annual WhiteHot 5K kicks off at 8 a.m. at Kent State. There is a $25 registration fee. Runners can show up the day of the race or sign up online.

“It’s a tribute to a wonderful young lady who gave her life for the cause of this country and did an amazing mission,” Paydock said.

The money raised goes toward scholarships that are awarded to outstanding students in the Kent State ROTC.

Paydock says White-Stumpf would be embarrassed over all the attention, but he is glad her service and sacrifice is now captured in a book that could one day play out on the big screen.

“This is an amazing story, a fascinating story, a thrilling story that I think the public will want to hear more about,” Paydock said. “The way the things are going these days with ‘American Sniper’ and some other war movies, I think the market is ready for it.”

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Media Contacts:
Joe Paydock,, 330-221-1992
Eric Mansfield,, 330-672-2797

POSTED: Tuesday, April 7, 2015 10:52 AM
Updated: Friday, February 16, 2018 04:50 PM
Kristin Anderson