Technical Sergeant James Cecil Ashburn entered the service from Madison County, AL. While serving with the Alaska Defense Command in WWII, TSGT Ashburn heard the call for help from a fellow soldier who was overcome by heat, smoke and fumes in a fiercely burning building on January 22, 1943. With complete disregard of personal safety, TSGT Ashburn entered the building and brought the soldier to safety. Both men suffered severe burns. The heroism displayed by TSGT Ashburn on this occasion displayed great credit on himself and the US Army. For this heroic act, TSGT Ashburn was awarded the nation’s highest award for heroism not in combat, the Soldier’s Medal.
TSGT Ashburn later attended Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Fort Belvoir, VA and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Engineers. He retired from the US Army National Guard as a captain and lived in the Madison County area. CPT Ashburn was inducted into the Madison County Hall of Heroes in 1998.