William Walter Hester

Private First Class
United States Marine Corps
10 May 1949 - 01 July 1968
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Panel 54W Line 029

Silver Star

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign
William W Hester

The database page for William Walter Hester

13 Oct 2002

William W. Hester and Robert E. Church graduated together
from Central Regional High School in 1967.

On 16 May 1968, Bob Church was killed in action.
He was awarded the Bronze Star for heroism.

Six weeks later, on 01 July 1968,
William Hester joined his classmate.
He was awarded the Silver Star for heroism.

Central Regional High School's Class of 1969
dedicated their year book to
Robert Church and William Hester.

A memorial initiated by a fellow Vietnam veteran.
E-Mail may be forwarded via the

The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the


posthumously to


for service as set forth in the following


"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as a Grenadier with Company I, Third Battalion, Fourth Marines, Third Marine Division in connection with operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On the morning of 1 July 1968, Company I's defensive perimeter near the Khe Sanh Combat Base was assaulted by a numerically superior North Vietnamese Army force, and after the Marines successfully repulsed the hostile attack, Private First Class HESTER's squad was assigned to search the area for any remaining enemy. Suddenly observing a small hostile group, one of the Marines immediately delivered a heavy volume of fire upon the enemy soldiers and exhausted his supply of ammunition. Reacting instantly, Private First Class HESTER fearlessly assaulted the hostile unit, killing a North Vietnamese soldier with his M-79 grenade launcher and preventing the remaining enemy from firing upon his defenseless comrade. Disregarding his own safety, he resolutely commenced reloading his weapon and was mortally wounded by hostile fire. Ignoring his painful injuries, he steadfastly remained in his dangerously exposed position and continued firing upon the enemy until he succumbed to his wounds. His bold initiative and resolute determination inspired all who observed him and were instrumental in saving the life of his fellow Marine. By his courage, aggressive fighting spirit and selfless devotion to duty, Private First Class HESTER contributed significantly to the accomplishment of his unit's mission and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country."



15 Oct 2002

The following article is taken from The Philadelphia Daily News, special supplement entitled 'SIX HUNDRED AND THIRTY,' October 26, 1987. The special supplement was issued in conjunction with the dedication of the Philadelphia Viet Nam Memorial.
In 1967, Hester graduated from Central Regional High School in Bayville, NJ, where he was a star basketball player and a member of the All-Ocean County team. He could not find a job, so in August 1967, he enlisted in the Marine Corps to supplement his family's income. One month later, his older brother also joined the Marines. The 19-year-old private first class sent money to his brothers on their birthdays from Viet Nam. The rifleman was assigned to Company I of the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division. Hester died on July 1, 1968, in Khe Sahn, Quang Tri Province. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star. Survivors included his parents, four brothers and two sisters.


From a native Philadelphian and Marine,
Jim McIlhenney

16 Nov 2002

For William Hester, a great person with whom I had personal contact in high school. I tried out for the Central Regional High School basketball team in the fall of 1966 (for the 1966-1967 season). My first and lasting recollection of our basketball practices was this big intimidating leader of a man. He would lead us in our calisthenics and warm ups before our practices. My favorite memory was of him doing finger tip push ups. He would stop on every repetition and look around for people who were not keeping up and calmly keep goading people to do their push ups correctly. Of course, every one else was huffing and puffing and dying just to do one non-finger tip push up. I could still hear him saying, "Johnson, get your butt up in the air, stop being such a slouch" (or something of that sort). He was an inspiration to me not only for what he did in practice but especially how much he pushed himself and how intimidating he was during ball games. A big man with a big heart. Unfortunately, his physical stature may have lead to his undoing. A heartfelt remembrance of him is always with me. What a shame that such a person with such a heart had to leave us so early.

For the red badge of courage has claimed another heart
Those he leaves behind, he leaves living
Family and friends think of his giving
But on that day in July, all need to make a new start

His stature, his courage, his energy and inspiration
Have punctuated my memory for decades and decades
The loss of someone so strong and caring cut like a blade
I remember his action, his leading, his perspiration

And now we go on with our lives into our future
The strength we have was at one time, his
The courage and backbone and other qualities he is
For how sad we may have been but his example is sure

I look back to that man, that crazy man
Jumping up and down, screaming and yelling
How much in awe I was, there is no telling
For Billy to go, must be life's plan

Over and over we must go
To live the great moments long before
This man who always made us give more
Then thank Billy for we needed him to grow

From a teammate, Central Regional Basketball team, 1966-1967
Eric Johnson
Burlington, NJ

A Note from The Virtual Wall

During the first two weeks of July 1968 India Company, 3/4 Marines, was stationed on Foxtrot Ridge, a hill mass on the south side of Highway 9 about 4 kilometers south-southeast of the Khe Sanh airfield. Khe Sanh was being abandoned at the time, and India 3/4's mission was to provide flank security for the convoys rolling east from Khe Sanh. The North Vietnamese repeatedly attacked the Foxtrot Ridge position with both infantry and indirect fire, resulting in 8 deaths among the Marines:
  • LCpl William A. Beckwith, Eugene, OR (07/04/1968)
  • LCpl Robert A. Resnick, Upper Darby, PA (07/04/1968) (Silver Star)
  • LCpl Oliver Zinimon, Columbus, OH (07/04/1968)
  • Pfc Dennis Fernandez, Chicago, IL (07/04/1968)
  • Pfc Ludin Garcia, New York, NY (07/01/1968)
  • Pfc William J. Hansen, Atascadero, CA (DoW 07/06/1968)
  • Pfc William W. Hester, Philadelphia, PA (07/01/1968) (Silver Star)
  • Pfc Samuel Russell, Nashville, TN (07/01/1968)

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a fellow Vietnam veteran.
E-Mail may be forwarded via the

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 13 Oct 2002
Last updated 07/28/2008