Thomas Ashton was born in San Francisco on June 1, 1944 and grew up in Redlands, California. He graduated Cum Laude from the University of Southern California in June 1965 with a degree in Political Science. Ashton had planned to attend law school but after President Kennedy’s assassination, he was inspired to serve his country in other ways and joined the Peace Corps.
The 22-year-old was involved in many organizations including CORE, the Redlands Young Democrats, and the NAACP, and was an activist for civil rights. He was at UT Austin in the summer of 1966 to study Persian, because the Peace Corps assigned him to Iran as an English instructor. He was scheduled to leave Austin for Iran on September 14, 1966.
On August 1st, a little after 11:50 am, Ashton was leaving his Persian language class to meet up with other Peace Corps trainees, David Mattson and Roland Ehlke, at the Student Union, where they planned to meet before heading together to a volunteer luncheon scheduled for that afternoon. As Ashton headed to the Student Union, across the paved terrace above the University’s Computation Center, he began to see bodies fall. Before he had a chance to duck for cover, Whitman’s bullet pierced his chest. Ashton was pronounced dead at 1:35 pm at Brackenridge Hospital.
The Peace Corps arranged for his body to be flown back home to Redlands, California. Ashton is buried at Hillside Memorial Park in San Bernardino County. He was survived by both of his parents and six younger brothers and sisters.