To honor these brave young men, five Manchester High School art students completed a large memorial painting in 2006, a permanent remembrance of our Armed Forces heroes. We especially honor three servicemen who sacrificed their lives protecting our freedoms: Burt “Rusty” Miller (MHS Class of ’66), Edward Fassnacht (’87) and Joseph Ashley (’99).
Rusty was drafted into the U.S. Marines after high school and assigned to combat-duty in Vietnam . At the height of the war in November 1968, a live grenade was thrown into his foxhole, and Rusty covered the explosive to save the lives of two soldiers with him. Though South Vietnam awarded him a posthumous Badge of Courage at that time, no details of the incident were provided to Rusty’s family. That is, until approximately 30 years later. One of his fellow Marines in the foxhole promised to find Rusty’s family and explain his friend’s heroism. But personal injuries—and the fact that “Rusty” was a nickname—made the search long and difficult. He finally found a lead thru the Vietnam Memorial Wall, and was able to track down the Millers here in Manchester .
Ed was a 31-year-old lieutenant in the U.S. Navy when he lost his life in August 2000. A helicopter co-pilot, Ed and three comrades died when their Sea Dragon chopper had mechanical problems and crashed in the Gulf of Mexico while on a training mission near Corpus Christi. Ed was survived by his wife and two children, ages three and one.
Joey was 24 years old and a Petty Officer 2nd-Class Navy machinist when he died from injuries suffered aboard the USS San Francisco submarine in January 2005. The nuclear vessel ran aground 350-miles off the coast of Guam, striking an uncharted underwater mound. Twenty-three of the 137 crewmen suffered injuries in the accident.