Postmortem change of duty station

Memory Lane

Postmortem change of duty stationAshworth is pictured with his parents during his 1933 graduation — Courtesy photos

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During his exemplary naval career Vice Adm. Frederick L. “Dick” Ashworth made history in multiple locations ranging from the skies over Japan, where he served as the weaponeer for the Nagasaki A-bomb drop, to China Lake, where he was Naval Ordnance Test Station commander and renowned for fostering close military-civilian teamwork.

Most naval officers move a lot during their lives. But Ashworth had the unusual distinction of also moving after his death.

During the years before he died on Dec. 3, 2005, he had been enjoying retirement in Santa Fe, N.M. So that was where his family had him buried — at the Santa Fe National Cemetery.

His sons, Rick and Dave, then discovered that in his will their dad had specified that he wanted to be buried at his alma mater, the U.S. Naval Academy.

“After a lot of discussion and debate, Rick and I decided it best to ‘let him be,’ but after seeing the elaborate and dignified ceremony for Sen. John McCain, we decided that Dad’s wishes should be honored, that he should be buried with his shipmates and other distinguished graduates of the Naval Academy as he wished,” said Steve, himself a retired Navy captain.

So the sons reserved a beautiful plot at the Naval Academy cemetery, then surmounted all the numerous bureaucratic obstacles relating to the disinterment and reinterment.

In December, in what Dave described as a “dignified but very low-key ceremony,” the sons and other Navy friends placed Ashworth in his final resting place at his beloved Naval Academy. And just this March 6, a beautiful headstone was installed overlooking the Severn River. “Mission accomplished,” said his son.

Story First Published: 2019-03-15