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Ohio County Sailor Slain in Attack on Pearl Harbor Accounted For

Navy Fireman 3rd Class Welborn L. Ashby was a 24-year-old sailor who was killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, and nearly 80 years after the attack took place, he was accounted for.

Posted: Jan 22, 2021 2:10 PM
Updated: Jan 22, 2021 2:52 PM

On Friday, Jan. 22, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced that Navy Fireman 3rd Class Welborn L. Ashby of Centertown, Kentucky, was accounted for on Nov. 4, 2019, after being killed during World War II.

Ashby was 24-years-old at the time of Dec. 7, 1941 - the day that the attack on Pearl Harbor took place.

The Ohio County sailor was assigned to the battleship USS West Virginia (BB-48), which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft.

During the attack, the USS West Virginia sustained multiple torpedo hits, but quick counter-flooding measures taken by the crew prevented it from capsizing. It came to rest on the shallow harbor floor.

However, the attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 106 crewmen - including Ashby.

The DPAA says that during efforts to salvage the ship, remains of at least 66 deceased crewmen were recovered. Those who couldn't be identified, including (at the time) Ashby, were interred as unknowns at the National Memorial Cemetary of the Pacific known as the Punchbowl in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Ashby's remains were later identified by scientists from DPAA who used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence, according to the DPAA. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and autosomal DNA (auSTR) analysis.

Ashby’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others who are missing from WWII - but a rosette will now be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Ashby will be buried May 31, 2021, in his hometown of Centertown, Kentucky.

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