Sam Earl Asher (Nov. 3, 1941 – April 26, 1970) was born in Oak Ridge, TN. Asher attended Tennessee Tech after high school where he was an active participant in their ROTC program. He transferred to the University of Tennessee after his first year in 1962 and enrolled in the ROTC program. Described as an outstanding cadet, Asher was the student commander of the unit during his senior year in 1966.
Asher entered Active Duty upon graduation and attended Infantry Officer training, “jump” school for the airborne, and then completed the Ranger School at Fort Benning, GA. After training, Asher served as an officer in the 3rd Infantry Division posted to Schweinfurt, Germany. He advanced to the rank of Captain before ending his tour in 1969.
After Germany, Asher was selected to command E Company of the 502nd Infantry Regiment in the 101st Airborne Division. They were deployed to Vietnam in the summer of 1969. In April of 1970, E Company was placed in Thua Thien Province in South Vietnam. They moved into position to occupy a hill known as Fire Base Veghel located southwest of Huế.
On April 26, 1970, Asher’s company had been surrounded by the regular North Vietnamese Army (NVA). In a report by 1st Lieutenant James Hill (now retired General James Hill), who commanded E Company’s recon platoon, their mortar platoon was in back and forth mortar fire with the NVA when a round hit and collapsed a bunker with soldiers inside. Upon witnessing this, Captain Asher left his own command bunker and raced to rescue the buried troops while he himself was under enemy fire. In his attempt to rescue his soldiers, Asher was struck by another NVA mortar round and was killed instantly.
For his act of heroism and self-sacrifice, Sam Asher was awarded posthumously with the Silver Star, the nation’s 3rd highest combat honor. He was returned home and interred at Woodhaven Memorial Gardens in Claxton, TN with full military honors on May 6th, 1970.