American Veteran 01

Welborn Lee Ashby

October 19, 1917 ~ December 7, 1941 (age 24)


Fireman Third Class Welborn Lee Ashby was born on October 19, 1917 in
Centertown, Kentucky.  The second of six children to parents Otis and Inez
Ashby.  Welborn was nicknamed "Tiddly" as a child because of his fondness of
playing Tiddlywinks with his friends.  He, along with his sisters; Altha A.
and Martha M., and brothers; Shelby Carrol, James Douglas and William
Lawrence, worked on the family farm.  Welborn graduated from Centertown High
School in 1936 and enlisted in the Navy on September 24, 1940.  On November
15, 1940 he boarded the Battleship USS West Virginia bound for Pearl Harbor,

In February 1942, the Ashby family received a telegram from the Navy that
said they were "unable to locate" their son.  A short time later a second
telegram informed the family that the Navy "declared Welborn to have lost
his life in service of his country as of December 7, 1941.  He was the first
World War II casualty of Ohio County, Kentucky.

Although Ashby's remains were eventually recovered during salvage operations
but could not be individually identified at the time, he was interred and
memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery
of the Pacific.  Around 2011 His sister, Martha (Ashby) Christian, who since
passed in 2017, and Martha's son Mark Christian, provided DNA samples to the
Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.  DPAA scientists used laboratory and
forensic anthropological analyses to identify Ashby's remains.  In October
2019 DPAA officially announced positive identification of Welborn's remains
to the Ashby family. 

The USS West Virginia, aka the "Wee Vee" was a Maryland Class Battleship of
624 feet in length, weighing 31,800 tons.  During the attack, the USS West
Virginia was moored just forward of the USS Arizona and berthed next to the
USS Tennessee.  As the outboard ship, the West Virginia was hit with five
torpedoes on its port side and two armor piercing bombs.  While the
extensive damage to the hull caused the battleship to sink, quick
counter-flooding efforts by the crew saved the ship from capsizing so that
it settled a on an even keel in the mud of the harbor bottom.  The West
Virginia carried a crew 1,454 officer and men, 106 of whom died during the
attack.  On May 17, 1942 it was re-floated, and temporary repairs were made
to ready the vessel for a cruise to Puget Sound for modernization and more
extensive repairs.   The USS West Virginia returned to war service on
September 14, 1944 and was present in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945 for the
signing if the formal Japanese surrender documents.

Ashby's ultimate sacrifice to his country has been recognized in several
ways.  The Navy awarded Ashby the Purple Heart.  Ohio County of the Kentucky
Transportation department designated the portion of Route 69 that runs
through Centertown the 'F3c Welborn Lee Ashby Memorial Highway'.  Also, the
Centertown American Legion has been renamed to the 'Welborn Lee Ashby
American Legion'.  In addition, Kentucky Governor Keen Johnson awarded
Welborn a posthumous commission as a 'Kentucky Colonel'.

The family's original plans to bury Ashby next to his parents in Centertown
in 2020 were postponed due to the COVID pandemic and will now be taking
place on Memorial Day, May 31, 2021.  The funeral service at Bevil Brothers
Funeral Home in Beaver Dam, Kentucky. Visitation begins at 10am.  Funeral
service begins at 1:00pm followed by burial service at the Centertown
Cemetery.  The Navy is providing full military honors.  Volunteer members
from Smoke On Aviation of Louisville, Kentucky will honor Welborn with a
"Missing Man Fly-over" at the conclusion of the sounding of Taps.

Ashby's personnel profile POW/MIA can be viewed at Welborn Lee Ashby POW/MIA

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Welborn Lee Ashby, please visit our floral store.


May 31, 2021

10:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Bevil Bros. Funeral Home
226 Louisville Road
Beaver Dam, KY 42320

Funeral Service
May 31, 2021

1:00 PM
Bevil Bros. Funeral Home
226 Louisville Road
Beaver Dam, KY 42320

© 2021 Bevil Bros. Funeral Home. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS & TA | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy