Tag Archives: Illinois

HA1c. Fred Faulkner Lester, USNR (June 8, 1945)

LesterFredFFred Faulkner Lester was born in Downers Grove, Illinois on April 29, 1926. He joined the United States Naval Reserve on November 1, 1943 when he was just 17 years old. He was placed on active service with the United States Navy, trained as a medical corpsman, and assigned to the 1st Battalion, 22nd Marine Regiment, 6th Marine Division.

Seventy years ago today during the Battle of Okinawa, then 19-year-old Lester, now a Hospitalman Apprentice 1st Class, rescued one wounded Marine from under heavy enemy fire, ignored his own grievous wounds, and instructed his comrades in care for the injured until he perished.

From Medal of Honor Citations for World War II (A-F):

Medal of Honor ribbon (foreground); World War II Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon (background)
Medal of Honor ribbon (foreground); World War II Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon (background)

*LESTER, FRED FAULKNER

Rank and organization: Hospital Apprentice First Class, U.S. Navy

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Medical Corpsman with an Assault Rifle Platoon, attached to the 1st Battalion, 22d Marines, 6th Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces on Okinawa Shima in the Ryukyu Chain, 8 June 1945. Quick to spot a wounded marine Iying in an open field beyond the front lines following the relentless assault against a strategic Japanese hill position, Lester unhesitatingly crawled toward the casualty under a concentrated barrage from hostile machineguns, rifles, and grenades. Torn by enemy rifle bullets as he inched forward, he stoically disregarded the mounting fury of Japanese fire and his own pain to pull the wounded man toward a covered position. Struck by enemy fire a second time before he reached cover, he exerted tremendous effort and succeeded in pulling his comrade to safety where, too seriously wounded himself to administer aid, he instructed 2 of his squad in proper medical treatment of the rescued marine. Realizing that his own wounds were fatal, he staunchly refused medical attention for himself and, gathering his fast-waning strength with calm determination, coolly and expertly directed his men in the treatment of 2 other wounded marines, succumbing shortly thereafter. Completely selfless in his concern for the welfare of his fighting comrades, Lester, by his indomitable spirit, outstanding valor, and competent direction of others, had saved the life of 1 who otherwise must have perished and had contributed to the safety of countless others. Lester’s fortitude in the face of certain death sustains and enhances the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

As is usual for members of the Naval Service awarded the Medal of Honor, a warship carried the young hero’s name. The USS Lester (DE-1022), a Dealey-class destroyer escort, served with our Navy from June 14, 1957 through December 14, 1973. The vessel was scrapped in 1974.

Lester today rests in peace in the Clarendon Hills Cemetery, Darien, Illinois.

Share

WT1 Elmer C. Bigelow, USNR (February 14, 1945)

Elmer Charles Bigelow was born on July 12, 1920 in Hebron, Illinois. He volunteered and enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve during September 1942 and, after training, was posted as an active member of the United States Navy in the Pacific Fleet.

Continue reading WT1 Elmer C. Bigelow, USNR (February 14, 1945)

Share

Private First Class Manuel Pérez, Jr., USA (February 13, 1945)

Manuel Pérez, Jr. was born on March 3, 1923 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He grew up living with his father in Chicago, Illinois. His enlistment record is not one preserved by the National Archives, but by February 13, 1945, Pérez was a Private First Class in the United States Army‘s Company A, 1st Battalion, 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 11th Airborne Division.

Continue reading Private First Class Manuel Pérez, Jr., USA (February 13, 1945)

Share

Master Sergeant Vito R. Bertoldo, USA (January 9-10, 1945)

Vito R. Bertoldo was born on December 1, 1916 in Decatur, Illinois. On January 9-10, 1945 as a Master Sergeant in Company A, 1st Battalion, 242nd Infantry Regiment, 42nd Infantry Division, when his unit’s positions were beset by a massed counter-attack of Nazi armor and infantry, his single-handed courage under fire turned the tide of the battle, and is best left to his citation for the Medal of Honor to tell the tale.

Continue reading Master Sergeant Vito R. Bertoldo, USA (January 9-10, 1945)

Share

Technical Sergeant Russell E. Dunham, USA (January 8, 1945)

Russell E. Dunham was born in East Carondelet, Illinois on February 23, 1920. He held just a grammar school education and was a farmhand when he volunteered for the United States Army and enlisted on August 16, 1940.

Dunham fought across North Africa and Europe with the 3rd Infantry Division. By January 8, 1945, he was a Technical Sergeant and acting as a platoon leader in Company I, 3rd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment.

Continue reading Technical Sergeant Russell E. Dunham, USA (January 8, 1945)

Share

Staff Sergeant Clyde L. Choate, USA (October 25, 1944)

Clyde Lee Choate was born on June 28, 1920 in West Frankfort, Illinois. His enlistment record is one of those missing from preservation at the National Archives, but by October 1944 he was a United States Army Staff Sergeant and the commander of a M10 or M36 gun motor carriage with the 601st Tank Destroyer Battalion, attached to the 3rd Infantry Division.

Continue reading Staff Sergeant Clyde L. Choate, USA (October 25, 1944)

Share

Private Harold A. Garman, USA (August 25, 1944)

Harold Alva Garman was born in Fairfield, Illinois on February 26, 1918. A search of World War II records didn’t find when he enlisted or was drafted into the United States Army, but we do know that on August 25, 1944 he was a 26-year old Private serving as a medic with the 5th Medical Battalion as part of the 5th Infantry Division and at war against the Nazi Germans in France.

Continue reading Private Harold A. Garman, USA (August 25, 1944)

Share

Private First Class Robert L. Wilson, USMC (August 4, 1944)

Robert Lee Wilson was born to a farming family in Centralia, Illinois on May 21, 1920. He was working with his father on the farm when he decided to enlist in the United States Marine Corps on September 9, 1941.

Wilson was a member of the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. 2/6 Marines was part of the 2nd Marine Division, and Wilson was a veteran of 1943’s Battle of Tarawa.

Continue reading Private First Class Robert L. Wilson, USMC (August 4, 1944)

Share

Private First Class Frank P. Witek, USMCR (August 3, 1944)

Frank Peter Witek was born on December 10, 1921 in Derby, Connecticut. He moved as a child with his family to Chicago, Illinois, and it was from there that he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve on January 20, 1942.

After training, Witek was assigned to the active Marine Corps as an automatic rifleman armed with an M1918 BAR with the 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment as a component of the 3rd Marine Division. He fought with 1/9 on Bougainville, and then landed with them on Guam on July 21, 1944.

Continue reading Private First Class Frank P. Witek, USMCR (August 3, 1944)

Share

Private Joseph W. Ozbourn, USMC (July 30, 1944)

Joseph William Ozbourn was born on October 24, 1919 in Herrin, Illinois. At the outset of World War II, he was working as a coal miner and was not subject to being drafted as that was considered a war-essential occupation. Nonetheless, he felt the call to bear arms and volunteered for the United States Marine Corps on October 30, 1943.

Continue reading Private Joseph W. Ozbourn, USMC (July 30, 1944)

Share