Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Lester, Fred F.

Lester, Fred F.

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Hospital Apprentice First Class (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.