Ashby, Clayborn Willis, Jr., AO2

 Service Photo   Service Details
10 kb
View Time Line
Last Rank
Petty Officer Second Class
Last Primary NEC
AO-0000-Aviation Ordnanceman
Last Rating/NEC Group
Aviation Ordnanceman
Primary Unit
2008-2008, AO-0000, VO-67
Service Years
1966 - 1968
AO-Aviation Ordnanceman

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Kelly Scherer (Zilla), AO1 to remember Ashby, Clayborn Willis, Jr., AO2.

If you knew or served with this Sailor and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Casualty Info
Home Town
Louisville, KY
Last Address
Louisville, KY

Casualty Date
Feb 17, 1968
Hostile, Died while Missing
Air Loss, Crash - Land
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
39E 069 / Section: 34 Grave: 4361

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Association Memberships
Vietnam Veterans MemorialThe National Gold Star Family RegistryUnited States Navy Memorial Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial
American Battle Monuments Commission
  2013, Vietnam Veterans Memorial [Verified] - Assoc. Page
  2014, The National Gold Star Family Registry
  2014, United States Navy Memorial - Assoc. Page
  2017, Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial [Verified]
  2018, American Battle Monuments Commission

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

The Lockheed OP2E Neptune was used for a wide variety of missions including it's primary function of patrolling the Vietnamese coast in search of contraband carrying junks in Operation Market Time. Several OP2E aircraft were assigned to Task Force Alpha, a special unit organized under US Air Force command employed to deliver Air Delivered Seismic Detection Sensors (ADSID) along the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos and Cambodia. The twin-engine Neptune dropped the sensors to aid intelligence in pinpointing the heaviest traffic for fighters and gunships assigned to attack enemy targets on the trail. The anti-infiltration detection system program had a succession of code names including "Igloo White," the name most recognized and used the longest.

On 17 February 1968, Cmdr. Glen M. Hayden, pilot; Lt. Curtis F. Thurman, co-pilot; Lt. JG James Kravitz, flight officer; Ensign James Wonn, navigator; ATN1 Paul Donato, 1st technician; AO2 Clayburn Ashby, Jr., ordnance; ADJ2 Chester Coons, plane captain; AN Frank A. Dawson, 2nd mechanic; and AN James Martin, aerial gunner; comprised the crew of an OP2E Neptune conducting a sensor seeding mission over the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The target location was along Highway 19, the primary road running from the Mu Gia Pass through the Steel Tiger sector of eastern Laos, then into South Vietnam near the major US base of Khe Sanh.

After completion of the first target pass, Cmdr. Hayden reported to the accompanying fighter escort and Forward Air Controller (FAC) that the Neptune had sustained hits by small arms fire, but would continue with a second target run. During the second pass, the pilots of fighter escort reported the starboard engine of the Neptune was on fire.

The crew acknowledged the report, aborted the rest of its mission and started to climb into an overcast of clouds at 4000 feet in its attempt to return to home base. In the meantime, the fighter escort climbed to the top of the cloud overcast to await the damaged OP2E in order to escort it back to base. The Neptune never emerged above the clouds. The last radio transmission from the crew was, "We're beat up pretty bad."

When the Neptune failed to rendezvous with its escort aircraft, the FAC dropped below the clouds to search for the OP2E and found burning wreckage. As the FAC visually inspected the area; he saw no parachutes, heard no emergency radio beepers and saw no other evidence of survivors on the ground. Aerial search and rescue (SAR) efforts were immediately initiated, but found no signs of life in or around the wreckage.

No ground search of the crash site was possible due to the heavy enemy presence in the area. Because there was no direct witness to the crash of the OP2E and the enemy was already close by; there was no way to determine if any of the crew of nine survived their loss incident. The Navy assumed that they did not survive, and on 6 March 1968 changed the status of all crewmembers from Missing in Action to Killed/Presumptive Finding of Death.

The crash site was located in rugged jungle covered mountains approximately 6 miles west of the town of Ban Namm which was located next to Highway 19; 11 miles south of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separated North and South Vietnam, 19 miles northwest of the major communist city of Tchepone and 58 miles south-southeast of Mu Gia Pass, Savannakhet Province, Laos. The crash site was also located 9 miles west-northwest of Binh Tram 34, an NVA way station used for a variety of purposes and 56 miles northwest of Khe Sanh, South Vietnam.

During 1992 and 1993, the Joint Task Force Full Accounting (JTFFA) actively investigated this crash site first with a site survey, then four joint field excavations. The first excavation was conducted in 1992 and three excavations in 1993. There was also one unilateral turnover of some partial remains/wreckage/personal affects to US personnel during this same timeframe.

The excavation resulted in the recovery of over 400 bone and teeth fragments, 1 gold crown for a tooth and 1 anterior permanent dental bridge. Also recovered were personal items including Lt. Thurman's Military Identification Card and his Sears Roebuck Credit Card. Additionally, other crewmen's ID cards and dog tags were recovered along with parts of 9 parachutes and other pieces of the Neptune's wreckage.

The bone and teeth fragments were sent to the Central Identification Laboratory, Hawaii (CIL-HI) for examination. They were able to match two of the teeth fragments to the dental records of Chester Coons and he was identified on the basis of those teeth. The bridge and the gold crown were possibly attributable to specific individuals, but it was decided to keep them as part of the group identification.

After examining the bone fragments, CIL-HI personnel were only able to identify them as human/possibly human. Further, because they are so small and fragmented, no DNA testing was possible and no individual identifications for any of the Neptune's crew could be made based upon the bone fragments. All the remains were considered to be a "group identification" and they were all buried together in one grave with a headstone bearing all nine names.

Not Specified

Vietnam War
From Month/Year
January / 1960
To Month/Year
June / 1973

Overview of the Vietnam War 

Vietnam was the longest war in American history and the most unpopular American war of the 20th century. It resulted in nearly 60,000 American deaths and in an estimated 2 million Vietnamese deaths. Even today, many Americans still ask whether the American effort in Vietnam was a sin, a blunder, a necessary war, or whether it was a noble cause, or an idealistic, if failed, effort to protect the South Vietnamese from totalitarian government.


Between 1945 and 1954, the Vietnamese waged an anti-colonial war against France, which received $2.6 billion in financial support from the United States. The French defeat at the Dien Bien Phu was followed by a peace conference in Geneva. As a result of the conference, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam received their independence, and Vietnam was temporarily divided between an anti-Communist South and a Communist North. In 1956, South Vietnam, with American backing, refused to hold unification elections. By 1958, Communist-led guerrillas, known as the Viet Cong, had begun to battle the South Vietnamese government.

To support the South's government, the United States sent in 2,000 military advisors--a number that grew to 16,300 in 1963. The military condition deteriorated, and by 1963, South Vietnam had lost the fertile Mekong Delta to the Viet Cong. In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson escalated the war, commencing air strikes on North Vietnam and committing ground forces--which numbered 536,000 in 1968. The 1968 Tet Offensive by the North Vietnamese turned many Americans against the war.

The next president, Richard Nixon, advocated Vietnamization, withdrawing American troops and giving South Vietnam greater responsibility for fighting the war. In 1970, Nixon attempted to slow the flow of North Vietnamese soldiers and supplies into South Vietnam by sending American forces to destroy Communist supply bases in Cambodia. This act violated Cambodian neutrality and provoked antiwar protests on the nation's college campuses.

From 1968 to 1973, efforts were made to end the conflict through diplomacy. In January 1973, an agreement was reached; U.S. forces were withdrawn from Vietnam, and U.S. prisoners of war were released. In April 1975, South Vietnam surrendered to the North, and Vietnam was reunited.


1. The Vietnam War cost the United States 58,000 lives and 350,000 casualties. It also resulted in between one and two million Vietnamese deaths.

2. Congress enacted the War Powers Act in 1973, requiring the president to receive explicit Congressional approval before committing American forces overseas.
My Participation in This Battle or Operation
From Month/Year
January / 1960
To Month/Year
June / 1973
Last Updated:
Mar 16, 2020
Personal Memories
My Photos From This Battle or Operation
No Available Photos

  3350 Also There at This Battle:
  • Abler, Ron, CDR, (1967-1987)
  • Achaki, Adisa, SN, (1972-1976)
  • Acuzar, Jose, CPO, (1969-1992)
  • Addison, Everette, PO1, (1963-1972)
  • Adkins, Edsel, PO2, (1970-1977)
  • Adkins, Evans, MCPO, (1969-2012)
  • Adkins, Terry, PO3, (1967-1976)
  • Afflerbach, Ronald, SCPO, (1960-1989)
  • Akin, James, PO1, (1964-1975)
  • Akin, William, SCPO, (1960-1980)
  • ALBERT, ROBERT, PO3, (1966-1970)
  • Alberts, Dennis, PO3, (1967-1971)
  • Albrecht, Charles, CPO, (1965-1989)
  • Alcorn, Wendell R, CAPT, (1961-1992)
  • ALEXANDER, FRANK, PO1, (1967-1973)
  • Alexatos, Michael Stephen, CAPT, (1942-1970)
  • Allen, Duke, LCDR, (1958-1983)
  • Allison, Terry, SCPO, (1968-1993)
  • Allsopp, Ralph, CDR, (1970-1994)
  • Alston, Rodger, PO3, (1964-1970)
  • Amborn, Lloyd, CAPT, (1965-1995)
  • Anderson, Dale, PO2, (1965-1971)
  • Anderson, Frank, PO3, (1967-1971)
  • Anderson, James, CPO, (1965-2001)
  • Anderson, James, MCPO, (1963-1993)
  • Anderson, Jr., George D., CPO, (1953-1973)
  • Anderson, Randy, PO2, (1962-1968)
  • Anderson, Stephen, SCPO, (1962-1991)
  • Andreasen, Earnest, PO3, (1965-1969)
  • Antonen, James, PO2, (1967-1976)
  • Armstrong, Rodger, CWO4, (1956-1979)
  • Arnell, Michael, SCPO, (1968-2006)
  • Arnette, Luther, CPO, (1966-1991)
  • Arnold, Charles, FN, (1966-1969)
  • Arrans, Guy, PO3, (1965-1968)
  • Arsenault, Rick, PO2, (1965-1969)
  • Arthur, Stanley R., ADM, (1957-1995)
  • ASCONE, ANTHONY JOSEPH, PO2, (1964-1968)
  • Asmussen, William, LCDR, (1966-1988)
Copyright Inc 2003-2011