Emily McClimans’ father, Captain Joshua McClimans, was an Army nurse from Pennsylvania. He was a natural athlete who excelled in wrestling, baseball, and cross-country. In college, he joined the Army Reserves and received his commission through his college’s ROTC program.
He first deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and then served a second tour in Afghanistan. On April 22, 2011, insurgents launched an assault on his forward operating base near Kabul. The attack included indirect fire from mortars and gunfire.
Back home in Pennsylvania, Emily had celebrated her 13th birthday two days earlier and been “waiting an entire year to embrace [her] father.” Instead of her daddy, she would be greeted by two soldiers who broke the devastating news that her father had lost his life. He made the ultimate sacrifice when he was shot and killed by an enemy sniper while responding to an attack on the base.
Emily has a lot in common with her father. She was a member of her high school JROTC and was an honor-roll student all four years of high school. She is now a junior at Florida Atlantic University where she is majoring in Speech Pathology. She is uncommonly aware of the fragility of the freedom that her father was serving to protect, writing in an essay that,
“We, as American Citizens, are not entitled to safety and security and peace, yet we receive it because people like my father are willing to sacrifice their lives for people they have never even met.”
She also shares her father’s commitment to serving others, saying, “My father’s legacy of courage and strength will live in me as I conquer life’s hardest challenges. I will continue to allow my father to live through my good works.”
Emily has received multiple scholarships from Freedom Alliance and in 2017, participated in Freedom Alliance’s annual Scholarship Retreat in Washington, D.C., where she was able to meet other scholarship recipients who share the common bond of being a Gold Star Child.