Vorderbruggen, 36 and the first openly gay American female officer to be killed in the line of duty, leaves her wife and young son behind in San Rafael, Calif.
Not long after the U.S. military repealed its "don't ask, don't tell" policy, Vorderbruggen married her longtime partner, Heather Lamb, becoming one of the first American service members to be wed in a same-sex ceremony.
Lamb in a statement said Vorderbruggen "was the light of our lives. Our son, Jacob, and I miss her so much. She has always been my hero. Never more than now."
Retired Navy Commander Zoe Dunning will remember Vorderbruggen as a fighter, who once served in the shadows. Under "don't ask, don't tell" Vorderbruggen could not tell her superiors she needed leave to help deliver her son.
"Heather was pregnant with their child," Dunning said. "Adrianna had to guess when to take leave so she could be there with her wife during labor."
With the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, Vorderbruggen served openly for the last five years, most recently in the front lines in Afghanistan.
"Her death in some ways signifies women, gays and lesbians are truly equal," Dunning said. "We do have the same risk out there."
Vorderbruggen was the third female member of the Air Force to die in Afghanistan, following two killed in helicopter accidents in October.
Family members confirmed the identities of the others: a reservist on leave from his job as a New York City police detective, an officer whose parents own a Washington, D.C., restaurant, a former high school football star from Georgia, a young father who dreamed as a boy of enlisting, and a married man from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.
Vorderbruggen and the other victims were part of a convoy of Western and Afghan troops on a routine security detail Monday outside Bagram Airfield, north of Kabul, when a man drove up on a motorcycle and detonated a suicide vest, officials said.