Thomas Lynn Lester

Private First Class
United States Marine Corps
26 January 1948 - 20 May 1967
Springfield, Illinois
Panel 20E Line 062



Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign
Thomas L Lester

The database page for Thomas Lynn Lester

12 Mar 2001


I still remember my friend from high school, eating your Mom's spaghetti, taking Cynthia to the Hays Homes Recreation Center and playing chess by the hour there, going to the movies with you guys, and the day I had to play Taps at your funeral with Pete Rameros.

I have your name on my wall at home, along with Blaine Miles and Terry Johnson. You'll never be forgotten as long as I draw breath, my friend ... Semper Fi!!

'Greater Love Hath No Man.....'

A memorial from his friend,
Al Farmer

20 May 2005

To Cynthia and the Lester family on the 38th anniversary of Tom's death:

I've said it before, but it bears saying again:
As long as I live, my friend will never be forgotten.

And, Cynthia, if you see this, please e-mail me at
I would love to hear from you.

From a friend,
Al Farmer
329 West Third Street, Duluth Mn 55806

Notes from The Virtual Wall

The North Vietnamese Army had two divisions stationed in the Demilitarized Zone, and a third just north of the DMZ. These forces were supported by heavy artillery based in and north of the DMZ, and were free to cross into South Vietnam as they wished, withdrawing into the sanctuary of the DMZ when necessary. In late Spring of 1967 the United States government changed its policy with respect to the DMZ and authorized MACV to allow US military operations in the southern half of the DMZ.

OPERATION HICKORY was the immediate result and was in response to thrusts south by elements of the two NVA Divisions. HICKORY was intended to defeat NVA units operating south of and within the portion of the DMZ up to (but not across) the Ben Hai River. One of the forces employed was the 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, recently withdrawn from operations west of the Khe Sanh Combat Base.

In the eastern sector, HICKORY was successful in forcing the NVA to withdraw north of the Ben Hai River, in removing some 11,000 civilians from the disputed areas, and in destroying the NVA infrastructure south of the Ben Hai - but that success came at a high cost.

On 20 May, Kilo 3/9, point for the battalion, made contact with what it initially estimated to be an enemy platoon deployed in mutually supporting bunkers in a draw. The enemy, at least a company, took Kilo under fire. To relieve pressure on Kilo, Lima 3/9 maneuvered to the flank of the enemy position, but was unable to link up with Kilo because of heavy enemy fire. Both companies spent the night on opposite sides of the draw with the enemy force between them, while supporting arms pounded the enemy position all night.

On the 21st, Mike 3/9 moved forward, joining with Kilo and Lima, and the three companies were able to clear the area. The clearing operation was costly: 26 Marines were killed and 59 wounded. The Marines counted only 36 enemy bodies, but the lingering smell in the draw indicated that many others were in the destroyed fortifications.

Private First Class Thomas L. Lester, USMC,
was buried on 6 June 1967 in Plot D-127,
Camp Butler National Cemetery
Springfield, Illinois,
surrounded by other men of honor and courage.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 08/10/2009