Timothy Joseph Ashcraft seemed to have his life together.
After struggling through school in Middletown, the 18-year-old found a love of welding and attended Live Oaks Career Center. As a senior at Amelia High School, where he attended after moving from Middletown, Ashcraft enlisted in the U.S. Army and told his family he was looking forward to graduating from basic training.
But on Oct. 6, all those dreams ended when Pvt. Ashcraft was one of two soldiers killed after a military vehicle struck them while they were in formation at an Army base in South Carolina.
On Monday afternoon, Ashcraft’s family and friends and veterans gathered at Wilson-Schramm-Spaulding Funeral Home to pay their respects and share stories. The funeral home was lined with photo boards that showed Ashcraft holding up large fish, walking around Kings Island Amusement Park and riding his skateboard.
His closed casket, covered by an American flag, sat at the front of the room.
Pastor Kevin McGuire urged those at the funeral to pray for the family in the days, weeks and months to come.
“He cherished the good times that he had with y’all,” McGuire said.
Several relatives delivered eulogies that sometimes were drowned out by the crying in the room.
One of his grandmothers, Diane Idlett, said Ashcraft was the oldest grandchild and the “day he was born our lives were forever changed.”
She said Ashcraft possessed a lively imagination, and as a child he loved to write stories and draw illustrations. He also enjoyed visiting museums or watching the polar bears at the zoo. He always carried a stick, using it as a sword or gun.
“He loved pretending,” she said.
She said last summer, while painting outside, her grandson complained about the heat, thought it was only 70 degrees. She told him South Carolina was a lot hotter and later Ashcraft called the state “the hottest place on earth,” she said.
In his first letter to her, her grandson was “positive and feeling good,” Idlett said.
Ashcraft’s grandfather, Ron Ashcraft, remembered a conversation the two had near Christmas. They talked about Ashcraft’s welding career and what role the military would play in his life.
“I felt good about him,” Ashcraft said. “I knew he would be OK.”
Before the conversation ended, the grandfather asked for a favor. He had a childhood photo of his grandson and wanted one of his grandson wearing his military uniform after he completed basic training.
“That talk made me so proud of my grandson,” he said.
Military officials called the incident at Fort Jackson a “tragic accident.”
The Army said earlier this month it had started a thorough investigation.
Fort Jackson is the Army’s largest training instillation, with more than 50,000 recruits assigned there each year.
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