Lester Williams, Jr

Specialist Four
Army of the United States
27 August 1944 - 01 November 1968
Bridgeton, NJ
Panel 39W Line 006


Distinguished Service Cross


Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Lester Williams, Jr

19 Jun 2002

Lester Williams was a brave soldier who gave his life to save his fellow redlegs. Sappers had infiltrated our perimeter, and one tossed a satchel charge into the bunker where Lester and several others had gone to get some much needed sleep.

Lester noticed the satchel charge, rolled out of his bunk and tossed the satchel charge clear of the bunker. His action cost him his life, but saved the lifes of several of his fellow redlegs, including an FNG who had just arrived a few days before.

For his actions, Lester Williams was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest award for heroism our nation has to offer. In some units, his action would have earned him the Medal of Honor.

I am proud to have served with such a brave man. I was the medic who treated him ... I only wish that I could have done more to save his life.

From a comrade-in-arms,
Mack Easley

A Note from The Virtual Wall

Fire Support Base Rita, located near the Cambodian border in the "Fishhook" area, had been established to block NVA infiltration from Cambodia into South Vietnam. On 01 Nov 68 it was occupied by units of 8th Bn, 6th Arty; B Troop, 1/4th Cavalry; and 1st Bn, 26th Infantry.

Just after 0300 on the morning of 01 Nov 1968, FSB Rita came under attack by North Vietnamese Army units. At the outset, the base was subjected to heavy mortar, artillery, and RPG attack, followed by a "human wave" assault against the northwestern defensive perimeter. Sappers and enemy infantry penetrated the perimeter, resulting in fighting within the northwestern section of FSB Rita. The artillery commander, Lieutenant Colonel Charles C Rogers, rallied his men and beat back the initial assault. A second massed assault followed, and again LTC Rogers led a successful defense. As dawn broke a third massed attack was launched. Rogers, now with three serious wounds, no longer was able to physically lead his men but continued to direct the defense and once again the NVA were repulsed. The battle continued until about 0800, when increasing air support forced the NVA to break off the attack and retreat across the border to sanctuary in Cambodia.

While one Medal of Honor (LTC Rogers, 8/6 Arty) and one Distinguished Service Cross (SP4 Lester Williams, 8/6 Arty, posthumous) were won that morning, the attack cost the lives of twelve American soldiers:

  • C Battery, 8/6 Arty:
  • B Trp, 1/4 Cav:
    • SP4 Michael P Alongi, Jr, Elmwood Park IL
    • SP4 Wayne K Laine, Walnut Creek CA
    • SP4 Marvin N Propson, Hilbert WI (buried St. John's Cemetery, St. John, WI)

  • 1/26 Inf:
    • Sgt Thomas W Bayonet, A Co, St Petersburg FL
    • Sgt James M Ciupinski, B Co, Chicago IL (medic)
    • PFC James E Martin, B Co, Portland, OR

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