All I have to say is that there are a lot of great people in this world. You will find a few of them in this story!
WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports
On a rainy Monday afternoon, the buzz of air-powered tools rattled through the garage at CSC Lifts, Liners, and Accessories. The experienced hands of Darrell Carmena applied just the right pressure to make the tools sing. It was a song he has played since he left the US Air Force in 1974.
During the Vietnam era, Carmena re-skinned damaged aircraft with shiny new aluminum. These days, he turns small trucks into monsters. Carmena said the Ford F-350 on his rack that day is for a very special person. When he is finished, it will be a king of the mud pit.
“This is top dog,” Carmena said. “No doubt. This is the man of men.”
It’s a man of men for a petite lady. With auburn hair, bright green eyes and a beguiling smile that lights up her living room, Ashley Lacey looks like anything but a monster truck driver. However, get her talking about mud and her inner tomboy roars through.
“I actually grew up with it,” she explained. “Being from Michigan, there wasn’t much else to do.”
With uncles and family who took home countless mud-dappled trophies, Ashley said she was destined for the mud life. And, it is a life she introduced to her husband. Ashley’s husband, Sgt. First Class William Kelly Lacey, took his first ride through the mud last summer via Skype. At the time, he was deployed as a mechanic for a Special Forces unit in Afghanistan. It was his fifth deployment in 10 years.
“They call it a gauntlet, when you do five deployments. And then you’re done after that; no more deployments,” Ashley said.
Army life is something Ashley knows all too well. She and Kelly met when they were deployed with separate units in Afghanistan back in 2008. He was rescuing her after her vehicle hit an improvised explosive device. They married a year later. When their daughter, Lily (now three years old), was born, Ashley left the service. Sgt. Lacey made it his career.
The truck makeover is a homecoming gift of sorts. While he supervises the project, Chris Wagley, co-owner of CSC, keeps Ashley posted of the week-long effort with photos he takes through a plastic bag. He does not want to ruin the surprise. Inside his shop, the lift has taken on a life of its own since the day Ashley first began ordering the parts. The one thing Ashley could not decide on was the rims. So, Wagely suggested he start the order and the build. While his crews worked, Ashley could bring in Sgt. Lacey to make the final decision on the wheels.
“She told me her husband had passed away in Afghanistan on January 4,” Wagley said.
It was early on a Saturday morning when Afghan insurgents breached the main and secondary gates in Sgt. Lacey’s compound. He was one of the first responders. Ashley tries to explain what she has learned about that day, as any soldier would, but the emotion is too much. Just one month after losing her husband, the nerves are still raw and she has to stop to brush away the tears.
“He took a group of soldiers to a fighting position at the front gate. They said he personally took down three insurgents that were wearing suicide vests. They had gotten seven meters within the perimeter, into the camp. He killed them before they had a chance to detonate their vests,” she said.
According to Army accounts, if those vests had detonated, it would have been a catastrophic kill by the enemy. Sgt. Lacey saved the lives of all 55 soldiers in the camp. With that threat neutralized, he moved his men to better defend the gate.
“They said they saw him fall. They thought he had tripped,” Ashley stated as she dabbed a tear from her cheek.
But unfortunately, Sgt. Lacey had not tripped. He had been fatally wounded by a rocket-propelled grenade. He was just 10 days short of returning home.
“By the time everything had calmed down, he was gone,” Ashley said and paused to catch her breath, as the tears streamed down her face. “They say he didn’t suffer. I don’t know. I’ve seen what happens with an attack like that and I’ve only seen suffering. He just took charge of the situation like the leader that he was, the person he was, and eliminated the threat. He gave his life.”
Back at CSC, what began with a simple lift design and a Google search of Sgt. Lacey’s name turned into a build with a purpose.
Our apologies, we don’t know why they pulled the video, we are hoping it will return… Read the full story here.
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