Meet Linda Ambard and Gold Star Family Dog PeytonMaj. Philip D. Ambard gained U.S. citizenship by enlisting in the Air Force at age 18. He served 26 years, was promoted from airman to officer, mastered ten languages, earned a Ph.D., taught at the Air Force Academy, and deployed throughout his career.
His wife, Linda, adored him, and like most military spouses, followed him around the country. They raised five children, four of whom graduated from military academies. “Phil never lost sight of the freedoms and opportunities earned through his U.S. citizenship,” Linda says. “He could have retired but instead planned to stay in the Air Force until they made him get out.” In 2011, Phil was assigned to mentor Afghan troops, befriending a senior Afghan officer. That “friend” turned assassin, and on April 27, 2011, he opened fire, killing Phil and seven other U.S. airmen.
Today Linda struggles with the tremendous loss to herself and their children, and anxiety-laden post-traumatic stress disorder tries to take her down. She works tirelessly on behalf of those experiencing military loss, especially the forgotten parents, siblings, and adult kids. Her many efforts include authoring a book, blogging, working on Whiteman Air Force Base as a violence prevention specialist, speaking on military issues and military loss, running marathons on behalf of veterans, and advocating before congress.
Running is one of Linda’s coping strategies. “I was at the Boston Marathon when all hell broke loose,” she shares. “I was one stoplight away from finishing when the first explosion happened.” That day, she shared raw emotions on a now-viral Facebook post with over 222,000 likes and 40,000 shares. Here’s an excerpt from that courageous post: