PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan (Dec. 22, 2011) -- Spc. Ashley Jones sat in her bed late Monday night at Craig Joint Theatre Hospital on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, waiting to join the solemn group of Soldiers who were being awarded the Purple Heart.

Jones' convoy was hit by an improvised explosive device and she received wounds which made her the first amputee in the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, or IBCT. However, despite her injuries she is in good spirits laughing and joking with friends from her unit.

More than 30 of her friends watched as Jones was presented with the Purple Heart by Brig. Gen. Gary Volesky, deputy commanding general for maneuver with Combined Joint Task Force-1, for wounds received Dec. 18.

"You aren't given this award. You have to earn it in combat," said Voleski as he explained the significance of the award. "Those who wear it don't do so for themselves, but they wear it for those who serve with them."

Raised in the small town of Cleveland, Okla., Jones was 17 years old when she joined the Oklahoma Army National Guard to aid with college costs. After her first semester at Tulsa Community College, the call came for Jones to prepare for deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Jones is assigned to Company C, 700 Brigade Support Battalion, 45th IBCT (Charlie Med) as a combat medic located at Forward Operating Base Kalagush. She often traveled on convoys to provide medical support.

"I don't want to have to do my job, but I will when I need to," said Jones. She further went on to explain that combat medics do their most demanding work when others are at their worst.

"All of the Soldiers in the 45th IBCT are strong and resilient, have done their duty, and can hang their head high," said Col. Michael Kinnison, the Bagram Airfield base operations officer-in-charge and a member of the 45th IBCT.

Recently, Jones was involved in a firefight and earned the Combat Medic Badge for being engaged by the enemy and treating a fellow Soldier.

In a separate incident, she was required to aid in removing a patient from the battlefield for more advanced care.

"Just a week ago I had to MEDEVAC [medically evacuate] someone and now here I am," she said, reflecting on being on the other end of the patient-medic relationship.

After Jones returns home she plans to go back to college.

"I want to transfer to OSU (Oklahoma State University) and get a degree in medicine to eventually become a registered nurse," she said. In spite of her challenges she plans to stay in the Oklahoma Army National Guard and continue to help those around her.