ABOVE PHOTO: Last Friday at the Freedom Theatre, the (NFBVN) National Federation of Black Veterans Network, honored Sgt. Carlos Ashlock. (United States Marine Corps) posthumously, with the Victory Crown Medal of Honor. In the photo is Ashlock’s brother Major accepting the award in his honor from NFBVN founder Maury W. Singleton. (Photo: Leona Dixon)
By Kendall Alexander
Some of the worst news that a military family can receive is that their loved one has either been captured as a Prisoner of War or is Missing in Action.
Few people know that as well as Major Ashlock.
Ashlock remembers the day—May 12, 1967—that his family got the news from the United States Marine Corps that his brother, Carlos, was missing.
Neighbors close to the family came to the house when they saw the Marine Corps Honor Guard come to the door, Ashlock said. The family was told that Carlos and another soldier, Augusta Santos, were determined to be missing after soldiers couldn’t find their bodies or their dog tags when the smoke cleared after a day long battle with the Vietcong.
He still remembers his mother being inconsolable, his father trying to comfort her, and he and his siblings not knowing what to think.
No one would ever be the same.
“We were told and our imaginations were running wild,” Ashlock said “We were devastated.”
Major Ashlock was one of the speakers at a ceremony honoring the 30th anniversary of the Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Penn’s Landing. In honor of POW/MIA Day, the creation of a memorial to all of the POW/MIA soldiers from the Vietnam War will be announced. So far, the Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund has raised $85,000 toward this memorial.
Carlos Ashlock is one of 10 soldiers from the Philadelphia Area that are POW/MIA from the Vietnam War.
Major Ashlock has been active in the POW/MIA National League of Families and was recently informed by the League that the search for his brother remains active.
The memory of his older brother is still fresh in his mind, Major Ashlock says. Carlos was a bright, athletic, and artistic young man. The oldest of seven, he was a role model for his younger siblings, and a few of them wanted to follow in his footsteps and attend Bok Technical High School.
After his graduation, Carlos was drafted into the military October of 1964. Major recalls the Vietnam War was already in progress, “so I was fearful.” Carlos wrote home regularly, requesting goodies from his mother and grandmother, whose cooking he missed.
Through the military, Carlos traveled all over the world and sent back gifts for his family when he could. He was hurt in a landmine accident, which injured his left shoulder, but he recovered and was sent back into the theater.
Although it’s been 50 years since Carlos Ashlock’s disappearance, the family has not given up on seeing him again, Major Ashlock said.
For more information, go to www.pvvm.org.
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