b. 29/04/1926 Downers Grove, Illinois. d. 08/06/1945 Okinawa, Japan.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 08/06/1945 near Hill 55-1, Oroku Peninsula, Okinawa, Japan.
Fred Lester was born on April 29, 1926, in Downers Grove, Illinois.
Lester enlisted in the United States Navy Reserve on November 1, 1943, at age seventeen. He completed his recruit training at Naval Training Station, Farragut, Idaho. He was promoted to seaman second class in January 1944. He attended the Naval Hospital Corps School in San Diego and after graduating, his rating was changed to hospital apprentice second class on March 3, 1944.
He was assigned to a Fleet Marine Force (FMF), Field Medical Service School, for combat field training and after completion, he was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 22nd Marine Regiment, 6th Marine Division. A hospital apprentice first class, he died after being wounded two times in action while serving with a Marine rifle company on Okinawa. He was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously. The medal was presented to his parents at Downers Grove High School on May 30, 1946 by Rear Admiral F. L. Conklin.
Lester was buried with full military honors at Clarendon Hills Cemetery, Darien, Illinois.
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 1st Battalion, 22d Marines, 6th 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 rifle 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 U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
BURIAL LOCATION: CLARENDON HILLS CEMETERY, DARIEN, ILLINOIS.
SECTION G, BLOCK K, LOT 28B, GRAVE 9.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: FAMILY.