Spc. Ember Alt wanted to go.
She wanted to fight for her country. The idea of deploying to Afghanistan excited her.
“But I was scared for her, we all were. We were scared for her,” said Alt’s stepmother Jennifer Owens, whom Alt knew as ‘Mommy’ from the time she was 2 years old.
“She was happy, kind of excited and scared at the same time, but she was excited about doing it.”
The 2009 graduate of Killeen High School deployed just before Thanksgiving in 2012 for her first overseas assignment.
Tuesday, the 21-year-old Alt was among the four U.S. service members killed by indirect enemy fire at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.
Her father, Charles Alt Jr., already in Afghanistan as a civilian contractor, escorted the body of his oldest daughter to Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Md. on Friday.
“It’s so amazing and great and at the same time so sad that her father got to escort her home (to the United States),” Owens said.
After processing, Ember Alt will return to Killeen to be laid to rest.
“On average, it takes about seven days from the time they land at Dover,” Owens said. “We’re all in a holding pattern. We can’t make any (funeral plans), can’t put a date on anything or tell anybody anything.”
Alt, who ran track at Killeen, was among the three killed who were assigned to the 68th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 43rd Sustainment Brigade, 4th Infantry Division from Fort Carson, Colo.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attack. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said Wednesday that militants fired two rockets into the Bagram Air Base late Tuesday.
Alt was living along the Georgia and South Carolina border when she entered the Army in 2011 and entered her home of record as Beech Island, S.C. She was awarded the Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and an Army Service Ribbon.
Alt ran the 300-meter hurdles and the first leg of the Lady Roos’ 1,600-meter relay team that finished seventh at the University Interscholastic League State Track and Field Championships in 2009.
Before Alt deployed, Owens and Alt’s younger sister, Kayla, drove to Colorado for a farewell get-together. They visited Breckenridge and the Cave of the Winds in Colorado Springs.
“I watched her pack up some of her stuff, sat and chit-chatted. The next morning, we got up early and drove up to the mountains — it was just so much fun,” Owens said. “We got up there, took lots of pictures. Got on the gondola and went up to the lodge ... just sat outside and watched the kids and the other people skiing, talked about plans of when she comes back.
“That’s what I’ve talked to her sister about is that we have to remember that,” Owens added, “that last time. We’ve got to have that. (I’m) so very, very thankful that I got that time. Words can’t even express.”