NEW FRANKLIN — The city is designating West Nimisila Road between South Main Street and state Route 93 as the Joseph Allen “Joey” Ashley Memorial Highway to honor the U.S. Navy machinist second class who died in a submarine accident in 2005.
Ashley, a 1999 graduate of Manchester High School, lived on the stretch of road when he enlisted in the Navy in 2001. The 24-year-old sailor was on the nuclear submarine USS San Francisco on Jan. 9, 2005, when it struck an undersea mountain in the western Pacific.
He was thrown 20 feet, striking his head on a large metal pump. He lost consciousness and died the next day. Sixty other sailors were injured, but Ashley was the only one who died.
"Many credit Ashley’s pristine care and expert maintenance of the vessel’s diesel engine, which was used after the crash to surface and return to Guam, for getting the remaining 136 crew members safely back to base," the city said in a news release. "According to the ship’s engineering officer and navigation officer, Ashley had an impressive reputation at Naval Base Guam. As subs would pull in for repairs, especially diesel issues, they would first look to see if the San Francisco was in port in hopes that Ashley was on board and available to do the repairs, as he always seemed to know how to fix even the toughest problems."
Mayor Paul Adamson will dedicate the Memorial Highway signs May 27 during a ceremony at Manchester Cemetery, 1030 W. Nimisila Road. The ceremony will follow the New Franklin Memorial Day Parade, which kicks off at 9 a.m. at Grace Bible Church on Manchester Road and travels to the cemetery. Ashley's mother, Vicki Matics, will serve as grand marshal of the parade.
Ben Ashley, Ashley's brother and a warrant officer in the U.S. Army, will speak on behalf of the family at the dedication ceremony. Ashley’s father, Dan, brother Danny, and three sisters Melissa, Vickie and Stephanie, as well as extended family members, will be in attendance.