Family of Ohio Co. man killed in Pearl Harbor prepare for memorial


CENTERTOWN, Ky. (WEHT) – The family of an Ohio County, Kentucky sailor is preparing to bring Welborn Ashby’s body home.

Ashby died in the attack on Pearl Harbor. His remains had gone unidentified until recently.
His family says the process of bringing him back to his home town has been emotional.

People driving through Centertown, may use Main Street. That road is dedicated to F3c. Welborn Lee Ashby.

“He was probably her favorite brother,” said Paula Kern, whose mother was Welborn’s sister.

“She was pretty emotional if she would talk about it. She was she was concerned about hearing about the sailors that went down the ship,” she said, describing how her mother would talk about the Pearl Harbor attack.

The road to bring Ashby’s remains back to Centertown started several years ago when the navy got DNA samples from kern’s mom and another family member.

“She’d given the DNA and literally hadn’t heard anything for years,” said Chris Kern, Paula’s husband. “So, it had been a number of years when Martha, my mother-in-law, had given the DNA.”

The family learned the DNA it provided was a match to one of the sailors who died in Pearl Harbor. Those sailors were buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific In Hawaii. But Paula’s mother died two years before the match was confirmed.

“She would have been giggling and happy. And she would have been really thrilled. My mom was a very emotional person, she wouldn’t have been in tears, happy tears,” Paula said, describing how she thinks her mother would react.

The memorial for Ashby was delayed by a year because of the pandemic. It is now scheduled for this upcoming Memorial Day weekend. The Kerns say having Ashby laid to rest in his hometown will bring much needed peace after the long wait.

“I think it’d probably be pretty emotional,” Paula said.

(This story was originally published on January 26, 2021)

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