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Maj. Philip D. Ambard gave the ultimate sacrifice in service to the United States when he was killed April 27 in Kabul, Afghanistan. Maj. Ambard arrived at the Air Force Academy Department of Foreign Languages in December 2003. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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 Academy assistant professor killed in Afghanistan - 4/28/2011
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Academy hero remembered by friends, colleagues

Posted 4/29/2011   Updated 4/29/2011 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Raymond Hoy
U.S. Air force Academy Public Affairs

4/29/2011 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Friends and colleagues gathered to remember the life and legacy of an Academy assistant professor who was killed Wednesday in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Major Phil Ambard, age 44, was killed in a shooting at the Kabul International Airport. He was serving on a NATO team training the Afghan Air Force.

While stationed at the Academy, he was the Department of Foreign Languages executive officer and later served in that same role for the Dean of the Faculty.

"As you can imagine, anytime we lose a fellow Soldier, Sailors, Airmen or Marines, it affects us all," said Brig. Gen. Dana Born, Dean of the Faculty. "But when it's someone that we know and love, it hurts a little bit more. Today we want to bring to life an amazing man who served here at the Academy; who was a great colleague, a tremendous mentor; a man who exemplified integrity, service and excellence for our cadets and faculty as well."

Major Ambard served as General Born's executive officer from 2006 to 2007.
In 2007, he was sponsored by the Department of Foreign Languages for a Ph.D. program at Denver University, which he completed in 2010 and was scheduled to return to the Department of Foreign Languages after a deployment to Kabul, Afghanistan.

"He was ready to do what he had to do (in Afghanistan) and he was excited upon returning to be able to get back into the classroom to do what he loved to do, and that's develop these cadets," General Born explained. "He felt as though he'd been given an opportunity and you could see that in his eye every single day. He valued the freedoms he had in this country and he defended those freedoms. He had an attitude of,'I'm going to give it my all.' And he gave it his all."

Major Ambard grew up in Venezuela. He was a translator in France multiple times. Fellow professor and foreign language department head, Col. Daniel Uribe, felt his experiences and background were a perfect fit for his role a the Academy.

"Phil came to our department in 2003 and made an immediate impact," he said. "He instantly became one of our top instructors. Cadet comments and ratings had him at the top of our faculty. And all of the cadet comments painted a picture of someone who was dedicated to this mission and dedicated to his cadets."

"You would always see a line of cadets at his office," added Lt. Col. LeAnn Derby, fellow professor and friend of Major Ambard. "It was easy to see the impact he had on them."
Colonel Derby, who also had the duty of being the casualty notification officer to Major Ambard's family, painted a picture of not only an integral part of the Academy, but someone who was a dedicated family man who touched the lives of people all around the local community.

"His wife is a teacher," she said. "When I spoke to her yesterday, she told me how much the kids at the school are also going to miss Phil. He would come to her school and participate in some of the activities with them, and they all knew and loved him. We're talking about our loss here at the Academy, but all of Colorado Springs had some sort of connection with Phil Ambard and it's a great loss for the community."

Major Phil Ambard is survived by his wife, Linda, and five children: son Alex, a student at the University of Denver, son Tim, a third-class cadet at the Air Force Academy, daughter Emily Short, a 2007 graduate of the Air Force Academy currently serving in Hurlburt AFB, FL, son Joshua Short, currently serving in the Army and stationed at Walter Reed Medical Center, and son Patrick Short, also a 2004 Air Force Academy graduate serving in the Navy at the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Virginia.

5/5/2011 10:09:48 PM ET
Thank you for honoring and remembering my husband. The outpouring of love from the community has been overwhelming. We are deeply humbled and bowed. So many people have offered support. Our broken hearts are fortified with the kindness of others. Arm in arm heart to heart we stand as one military family.A special shout out needs to go to the foreign language department at USAFA and General Born-and her executive officer-for the outpouring of love support and help that they have given my large family. My broken heart was soothed by all of the acts of kindness.
Linda, Colorado Springs
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