Raymond Elton Leighton

United States Marine Corps
29 September 1940 - 21 March 1966
Westbrook, Maine
Panel 06E Line 033

Purple Heart, Good Conduct, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Raymond Elton Leighton

09 Sep 2006

We miss you, dad!
Your Son,
MAJ Mark Leighton, U.S. Army

09 Mar 2008

Memories from Janet (Leighton) Lang, Ray's sister, as told to her nephew, Mark Leighton:


Hi Mark! Here are a few things I remember about your dad. For starters, I want you to know he was the most loved brother anyone could have. He was two years younger than me, so it is hard to remember a lot. When we were younger, we started school in a one-room school house, which had a wood stove in the middle of the floor. We also had an outhouse for our bathroom.

We went to school during all kinds of weather, because we all walked to school. We only missed school if we were sick. Our mom (Arlene Leighton) worked in a clothespin making factory, so we had chores to do when we got home from school. Our grandparents lived next door (this was Arlene's mom and dad), so we would come home and do what we had to do, which was: get water, wood for the stove, clean up the house, and pick up before our mom got home. Then we could go out and play with our cousins. We had several of them who lived near us, and we also had two uncles that were around our age. We had a lot of fun when we lived in West Gorham. I remember when it was Halloween and we all got together and went out trick-or-treating. When we got home, we would see all the candy we had been given! Our mom would make us put some of it away for a later time, but we had fun!

We went to Sunday school every Sunday. We would walk to the church, which was just a little ways past the school we attended. We would save some of our pennies (from the collection plate), so we could walk to the store and buy some candy after Sunday school. My mom never knew that, and no one was going to tell, because we would all be in big trouble!

In the summer, we played ball, hide and seek, and hopscotch. Our grandfather would put up a big brown tent and all of us would sleep out in it during the summer. We used to go camping with our grandparents, up on Songo Lake. They would rent a camp and we would all go swimming and fishing, and just have a good time.

Our mom (Arlene) and dad (Ralph) were divorced, so we went in to Portland (Maine) every two weeks and stayed with our dad for the weekend. In the summer time we would go with him for a week at a time. I remember, once, he took us all to the circus. It was just a little way over from where he lived. After the circus, he would take us out to eat and to the park to feed the birds and ducks. Our dad (Ralph) died when your dad was eight years old.

The town of Gorham (Maine) closed the one-room school we were going to and we started going to the village schools. Ray was in the 4th grade at the time, and the school was located on Fort Hill road, in Gorham. It is no longer there. We moved from West Gorham to Gorham village, on Portland Road, to live in a small house there (on the left hand side of the road). The house is still there! We had inside plumbing, which was good. We had an ice box for a refrigerator, and had to go to Standish (Maine) to get ice for it. We still had chores to do, too! We lived there for five years. I used to baby sit for the woman who lived next door to us - she was Uncle Durward's cousin, and that is where I met your Uncle Durward (my husband). I had to bring him to meet nana and she thought he was a good boy, so she let us go to the movies. We would take your dad with us, and Uncle Dick (our brother). We took your dad with us a lot. He went with us to get ice for the icebox. We would go to old Orchard Beach (Maine) and take Ray. We would go swimming and he would go, too. He just loved to be with us, and Durward would love to take him. When my mom got a job at SD Warren, we had to move to Westbrook (Maine).

I remember one day your dad came home from school with a tuba. Mark, he had to carry that thing up 3 flights of stairs, to the apartment we had moved to!! Can you just picture that!? I thought, "What is my mom going to say when she gets home?" My grandmother and grandfather (my mom's mom and dad) lived down on the 2nd floor. I went down and told them and they said, "He can't play that! We live in an apartment building with other people!" Well, our mom came home and she said told Ray the same thing. He did try to play it, but he had all he could do just to blow into it! Your Uncle Dick and I thought it was funny, but our mom told him that it had to go back to school. He did take it back. I can't remember if he tried anything else.

Well, time went by and life went on. He was a good student and my mom never got anything bad from school about him. Durward and I got married and then Vic and Van (our twin sons) came along. Your dad went in the Marine Corps and when he came home on leave he would come to see us. We stayed close.

He met your mother and fell in love. Mark, they loved each other very much. They would come to our house and stay and play with the boys (Vic and Van). He thought a lot of them and he was a good uncle. When he and your mom got married Uncle Durward was his best man. Glen (our third son) was the ring bearer. They had a beautiful wedding. (I'm sending you pictures I have.)

He was stationed at the Brunswick (Maine) Naval Air Station, with your mom, and we went to see them. They had a cute apartment. Then he got his orders to go to Vietnam. We were all upset, but he said he would be fine and he needed to go and serve his country. He wanted to make sure his family was safe and the Viet Cong could not come over here. After he went to Camp Pendleton (California) and did some training, your mom went out to be with him before he was sent overseas. They had a good time. They went to Disneyland, and I was so glad they had that time together. It was the last time she saw him, Mark.

I do remember one more thing. It was when we went to the West Gorham School. In the winter time, we used to go sledding on a big hill out behind the school. We all had fun!

I forgot about the bikes we wanted for Christmas! My mom said she had no money for 3 bikes, so when Christmas was just a few days away we started looking (snooping) around for things. We had an attic in our house, so we got up there and found our bikes!! They were not new ones, but we did not care. We were so excited!! My mom never knew we found them!

So, Mark, this is what I remember about your dad. If I come up with any more, I will send it to you. I have pictures for you too, and I will get them sent to you. Mark, your dad would be real proud of you! You are doing just what he wanted to do. I miss your dad a lot, and I think about him every day and I'm so glad I have these memories I can pass on to you.

I love you guys very much, so take care. I hope this is what you wanted. Like I told you, my spelling is not what it should be, but I try. So enjoy reading this and there is more to come! I hope Uncle Dick will send you some of his memories.

All my love,
Aunt Janet

Sergeant and Mrs. Leighton

Mrs. Leighton with sons Mark and Ken

Mark Leighton at the Wall

A Note from The Virtual Wall

Shortly after midnight on 18 March 1966 radio communications were lost with the ARVN outpost on Hill 141 west of Quang Ngai City. First-light reconnaissance indicated that the outpost had been overrun and was now under control of heavily armed enemy troops. Intelligence sources were able to confirm that the 36th North Vietnamese Regiment, with three infantry battalions and one anti-aircraft battalion, had set up shop in the area immediately around the captured An Hoa outpost.

A reaction/relief force was promptly put together, consisting of elements from the 3/1 Marines, the 1/4 and 2/4 Marines, the 3/7 Marines, and an ARVN battalion. The allied forces were inserted by ground and air on 20 and 21 March and began closing around the areas where the NVA forces were understood to be located ... and the NVA was indeed there. As the encirclement tightened fighting grew from small arms and mortar exchanges to full-fledged multi-company engagements. Over the next four days, "Operation Texas" claimed a total of 623 known enemy dead, but at least 57 US Marines and sailors were killed in a series of bitter fights. Sgt Raymond E. Leighton, Lima 3/7, was one of 7 Americans killed during an assault at Thach An Noi on 21 March:

  • K Co, 3rd Bn, 7th Marines
    • LCpl Harold W. Wilson, Johnson City, TN

  • L Co, 3rd Bn, 7th Marines
    • Sgt John L. Hunter, Rolla, MO
    • Sgt Raymond E. Leighton, Westbrook, ME
    • LCpl Julius J. Valint, Uniontown, PA
    • LCpl William G. Wade, Berea, OH (Silver Star)
    • LCpl Thomas B. Flood, Wellesley, MA
    • Pfc Allan L. Elmore, Hollywood, CA

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 09 Sep 2006
Last updated 08/10/2009