Monument to honor crew of first USS Asheville

News release from the Asheville Fire Department:

Representatives from the North Carolina Submarine Museum Foundation and the City of Asheville announced plans for a monument honoring the crew of the USS Asheville Patrol Gunboat No. 21.

The first submarine bearing the Asheville name launched on July 4, 1918. The ship’s ceremonial sponsor was Alyne J. Reynolds, daughter of Dr. Carl V. Reynolds, the city’s health officer during the 1918 influenza outbreak. He also instituted a number of public health initiatives, including vaccinations for school children. Reynolds’ home is now The Albemarle Inn in Asheville. The inn, located at 86 Edgemont Road, is listed on the National Historic Register.

The USS Asheville PG-21, a single-screw, steel-hulled gunboat, was attacked in an encounter with three Japanese warships on March 3, 1942. The out-gunned Asheville sank, and 160 of the crew were lost. The lone survivor was 18-year-old Fred L. Brown who was taken prisoner by the Japanese.

A commemoration ceremony at Riverside Cemetery located in the historic Montford neighborhood is planned for Sunday, March 3, 2024. A memorial monument will honor the crew of the USS Asheville PG-21.

The USS Asheville PG-21 Memorial Ceremony and Monument is sponsored by the North Carolina Submarine Museum Foundation in partnership with the City of Asheville.

Since the loss of the first USS Asheville in 1942, three other Navy ships have been named for the city including the current USS Asheville (SSN-758) which is a Los Angeles-class nuclear powered fast attack submarine patrolling the Pacific and South China Sea.

As part of today’s announcement, Julie Lockwood, wife of USS Asheville Commanding Officer Tom Dixon, presented Asheville Vice Mayor Sandra Kilgore with first day covers from all three Asheville named ships: PG-21, PG-84 and SSN-758.

“Although a nearly outdated warship and certainly out-gunned by three modern enemy destroyers which participated in the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Asheville fought valiantly demonstrating to the Japanese Navy that the American Navy was going to put up a fight,” said Christopher Perrien, director of the North Carolina Submarine Museum. “Hers was an inspiration to our Navy throughout the war. It’s fitting that each of her 160 crew members be commemorated in PG-21’s namesake city.”

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