Foundation to last a lifetime

September 9, 2006 

Wayne Ashby, 39, is serving his fourth tour of duty in Iraq. He credits teachers at Stadium for his military success.


Wayne Ashby, Class of 1985, logged onto Stadium High School’s memory blog from Baghdad, where he is a sergeant first class in the Army.

He’s proud to be there, in charge of a large maintenance shop, and he credits Hugh Barden for making it possible. Barden taught him metal working and heavy diesel repair at Stadium.

“He was my instructor, my friend and, during summer and after school time, my employer, as he had a small construction business on the side,” Ashby wrote in an e-mail. “He and the automotive repair program at Stadium truly set me up for success and taught me what I needed to know to be successful in this career, heavy vehicle maintenance and repair.”

Barden respected him, and he excelled in auto shop, the class for which he had a passion. Respect, one way or another, was his key to achievement.

“I remember clearly working for (coach) Tom Tipton when playing football, until I had my knee completely blown out. The discipline Mr. Tipton taught serves me well, even today in the Army almost 25 years later.”

Back in Ashby’s day, if Stadium had given out letters in, say, reefer madness, irony and covert beer-barrel rolling, the awards assemblies would have gone on forever.

“Stadium wasn’t a rough school,” he said. “I don’t think the administration felt a large need for storm troopers to patrol the halls and grounds. We were not a school of delinquent drunks, but we knew how to have fun.”

Back to Baghdad.

Ashby, 39, is deployed with an infantry company with the First Armored Division from Baumholder, Germany. He’s has been on active duty in the Army since July 1985, and has earned his college degree. He is nine months into his fourth tour of duty in Iraq.

“It has been hot. It has been violent,” he wrote. “That being said, and as difficult as the situation is here, I still believe in the mission.”

He’ll miss the reunion, he said, but with luck, he said, he’ll be retired and home in Lakebay in time to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner.

If you’d like to e-mail him at wayne.ashby, he’d love to hear from you.

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