Hospital Apprentice First Class Fred F. Lester, USNR, (1926-1945)



Fred Faulkner Lester was born on 29 April 1926 in Downers Grove, Illinois. He enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve from that state as an Apprentice Seaman in November 1943. Completing training at Naval Training Station, Farragut, Idaho, he was promoted to Seaman Second Class in January 1944. Lester received additional training at the Hospital Corps School at San Diego, California, and upon graduation, became a Hospital Apprentice Second Class. He was then assigned to the Fleet Marine Force at Camp Elliot, San Diego, California. Transferring to the Pacific war zone, he was promoted to Hospital Apprentice First Class and was assigned as a Medical Corpsman to the First Battalion, Twenty-Second Marines, Sixth Marine Division.

On 8 June 1945, Lester served with an assault rifle platoon against the Japanese on Okinawa Shima. Spotting a wounded Marine beyond front lines, he crawled to him, despite being hit twice by enemy gun fire, and pulled him to safety. Refusing medical treatment for his fatal injuries, Lester guided squad members in providing medical treatment on the rescued Marine, and to others, before dying shortly thereafter. For his "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" on this occasion, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Fred F. Lester is buried at Clarendon Hills Cemetery, Westmont, Illinois.

USS Lester (DE-1022), 1957-1973, was named in honor of Hospital Apprentice First Class Fred F. Lester.


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Photo #: NH 84955

Hospital Apprentice First Class Fred F. Lester, USN


Halftone reproduction of a photograph, copied from the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 218.
Fred F. Lester was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" while serving as a Medical Corpsman with an Assault Rifle Platoon attached to the First Battalion, Twenty-Second Marines, Sixth Marine Division in action on Okinawa against Japanese forces on 8 June 1945.

NHHC Collection

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Medal of Honor citation of Hospital Apprentice First Class Fred F. Lester, USN (as printed in the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 218):

"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 First Battalion, Twenty-second Marines, SIXTH Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces on Okinawa Shima in the Ryukyu Chain, 8 June 1945. Quick to spot a wounded Marine lying 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 machine guns, rifles and grenades. Torn by enemy fire 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 two 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 two 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 one 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 United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country."


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