Tag Archives: United States Navy

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.

LTJG Rufus G. Herring, USNR (February 17, 1945)

Rufus Geddie Herring was born in Roseboro, North Carolina on June 11, 1921. After graduating from Davidson College in the spring of 1942, he enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve, was sent to the Midshipman’s School in New York, and commissioned as an Ensign in December, 1942.

Continue reading LTJG Rufus G. Herring, USNR (February 17, 1945)

BM2 Owen F. P. Hammerberg, USN (February 17, 1945)

Owen Francis Patrick Hammerberg was born on May 31, 1920 in Daggett, Michigan and grew up in Flint, Michigan. He enlisted in the United States Navy on June 16, 1941 and was trained as a rescue and salvage diver. During World War II, he served aboard both the battleship USS Idaho (BB-42) and minesweeper USS Advent (AM-83).

Continue reading BM2 Owen F. P. Hammerberg, USN (February 17, 1945)

Commander Eugene B. Fluckey, USN (December 14, 1944-February 15, 1945)

Eugene Bennett Fluckey was born in Washington, District of Columbia on October 5, 1913. He graduated with the United States Naval Academy class of 1935 and commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Navy. After a few years in surface ships, he reported for submarine training in 1938.

Continue reading Commander Eugene B. Fluckey, USN (December 14, 1944-February 15, 1945)

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)

Commander George F. Davis, USN (January 6, 1945)

As a member of the United States Naval Academy class of 1934, George Fleming Davis assuredly learned the immortal words of Captain James Lawrence of the frigate USS Chesapeake in 1813: “Don’t give up the ship!”

Davis was born on March 23, 1911 in Manila, the Philippines. His first service with the fleet was on destroyers. In mid-1941 he was promoted to Lieutenant and posted to the battleship USS Oklahoma (BB-37). In the opening moments of the United States in World War II, Davis had to give up his ship as she capsized and sank from multiple strikes from Japanese torpedoes at Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. Oklahoma took 429 of her more than 1,300 crew with her.

Continue reading Commander George F. Davis, USN (January 6, 1945)

Commander Ernest E. Evans, USN (October 25, 1944)

Ernest Edwin Evans was born in Pawnee, Oklahoma on August 13, 1908. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy with the class of 1931 and was commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Navy. He commanded two destroyers during World War II. Early in the war, he was captain of the USS Alden (DD-211). Later he was the first and only captain of the USS Johnston (DD-557) [featured image].

It was as captain of the Johnston during the Battle off Samar in the larger Battle of Leyte Gulf that he was decorated with the Medal of Honor for his great courage.

Continue reading Commander Ernest E. Evans, USN (October 25, 1944)

Commander Richard H. O’Kane, USN (October 23-24, 1944)

Two days ago, I gave the story of the greatest Naval Aviator of World War II: David McCampbell. Today, we get the story of the greatest submarine officer and commander of the war, who was credited with sinking 31 Japanese vessels as the commanding officer of the USS Tang (SS-306). Richard Hetherington O’Kane was born in Dover, New Hampshire on February 2, 1911. He graduated with the United States Naval Academy class of 1934 and commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Navy and later volunteered for submarine duty in 1938.

Continue reading Commander Richard H. O’Kane, USN (October 23-24, 1944)

Commander David McCampbell, USN (June 19 & October 24, 1944)

With my Medal of Honor posts, I like to learn and pass along “back story” of the great men who have been decorated with our nation’s highest honor. For today’s 70th anniversary tribute to David McCampbell, the greatest United States Navy “ace” of World War II with 34 aerial victories against enemy Japanese aircraft – including five in one day and nine on another, the acts for which he received the Medal – nothing is really required besides the records of his heroism.

Continue reading Commander David McCampbell, USN (June 19 & October 24, 1944)

Lieutenant Arthur M. Preston, USNR (September 16, 1944)

Arthur Murray Preston was born in Washington, District of Columbia on November 1, 1913. He was a graduate of both Yale University and the University of Virginia, and was an attorney in Washington, DC when he volunteered to enlist in the United States Navy in September of 1940.

Preston was sent to the Naval Reserve Midshipmen’s School at Northwestern University and was commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Naval Reserve during March of 1941. He became an officer in motor torpedo (PT) boats and was present at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked on December 7, 1941.

Continue reading Lieutenant Arthur M. Preston, USNR (September 16, 1944)