NC: MUSLIM ARMY MAJOR DIES IN ATTACK
Her mother warned her: A soldier's business is war. There is no safety. There are no guarantees.
But the Iraqi daughter loved the American officer.
And so, in 2005 - two years after they met in Iraq - she left her country to move to his and become his wife.
And on Thursday - four years after her mother's warning - Lena Ahearn became a widow.
Her husband, Maj. James Michael Ahearn, 43, was killed in Baghdad when his vehicle struck a roadside bomb. Sgt. Keith A. Kline, 24, of Oak Harbor, Ohio, was also killed in the attack.
"Jimmy was the greatest gift I ever had," Lena said Sunday from the couple's home in Raeford. "I will never regret marrying him for two years and moving to the United States."
Ahearn, who had served in the Army for 18 years, and Kline were assigned to the 96th Civil Affairs Battalion, 95th Civil Affairs Brigade at Fort Bragg.
This was Ahearn's third time in Iraq.
It was during the second tour that he met Lena. She loved the way he looked in his uniform and the way he used his own money to buy toys for Iraqi children.
When they married, Ahearn offered to convert to Islam for his bride.
"I only want you to convert if you believe in it," Lena told him.
And he used that belief to try to bridge the cultural gap between American soldiers and the Iraqi people on his third tour of Iraq.
"He told them there are no differences between people," Lena said.