Roderick Barnum LesterLieutenant Commander
VA-52, CVW-11, USS KITTY HAWK
United States Navy
19 June 1946 - 02 August 1978
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The database page for Roderick Barnum Lester
My name is LCDR David Copp and for the last 19 years I have worn LCDR Lester's MIA bracelet.
Sitting here at work, having just returned from Iraqi Freedom, I'm thinking about Roderick (Rog). During Operation Iraqi Freedom I walked the deckplates of USS KITTY HAWK -- the same spaces Rog and Harry walked. I'm very honored to have done so.
04 Jul 2003
Just a short note to say I am thinking of Rog, on this day as we celebrate the independence of our country, and his friends who knew him from Morton, Pensacola, and KITTY HAWK. I am determined to not simply forget but to carry on the remembrance and share his and his extended family's warmth.
25 Jan 2004
Just returned from a quick trip to Hickam AFB where I was fortunate enough to be present at the repatriation of two sets of remains believed to be Rog Lester and Harry Mossman. I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend -- especially as some of his closest friends were not able to do so. In fact, had it not been for Danny B I would not have even known of the opportunity to attend the ceremony so many thanks to good Danny B!
As always, the faith continues as we work through the identification process and pray for a speedy process. Many thanks to those two former KNIGHTRIDERS who attended the ceremony -- especially for making me feel so welcome to an incredible band of brothers.
As always -- very respectfully, DAC
01 Aug 2005
The family of Rog Lester announced that a memorial service, with full military honors, will be held in Morton, Washington, on August 20, 2005. Services for Lester, a native of Morton and 1968 graduate of the University of Washington, will be held on the thirty-third anniversary of Lester's 1972 loss.
From a friend,
David Copp, Commander, USN
My name is Michelle Wynn. In 1999 I did a production of the show "HAIR". After fully examining my feelings on war and all that it entails a large group from the cast visited the Vietnam War Memorial. There I saw a stand with POW/MIA bracelets. I do not have any relatives that were in the war, therefore I decided to pick one at random. Please know that "Rog" has been on my wrist ever since. As the bracelets are intended to do, he is lost, but he will NEVER be forgotten. It takes an amazingly brave soul to do what he, and all of his colleagues, did. He is always in my thoughts. Every year on my birthday (ironically November 11th - Veterans Day) his name has been in my thoughts as I blow out the candles and make that special wish. It is now 2003 and I must say that LCDR Roderick B. Lester is well known amongst my friends. His name and his memory have been spread far and wide. I have been asked many times about the golden bracelet adorning my wrist. I am always more than happy to explain the story behind it, and the wonderful things I have read of the man I am "remembering". I would like, one day, to find his family and let them know that they are not alone, that I am also thinking of him and keeping his memories in my heart. If his family should see this, feel free to contact me via email (IAMFANTINE@aol.com). I would love to hear from you and learn more about this amazing human being who fought so bravely.
I have been wearing Rog's bracelet since 1973. Back then his bracelet never left my wrist and I hoped and prayed that he would be found. I still wear the bracelet in his memory on Veterans' Day and Memorial Day. I think often of this special man who was lost and what a wonderful person he must have been. May his light always shine through the memories of the people who love him and through the bracelets that adorn the wrists of those who wish they could have met him.
Needless to say, LCDR Lester has touched my life from the time I was 5 years old. Watching and hearing those J-52 engines screaming over Morton was terrifying then, and still brings chills down my spine at age 39 as a Maintenance Chief in an EA-6B squadron (4 seat variant of the A-6). I was saddened to see the A-6 retired. It was my platform of choice when I enlisted in the Navy at age 18 and I have always felt a special connection with "Rog". As I read the press clippings from the memorial service, and talked to my friends and relatives from Morton it is obvious that even though this occured some 33 years ago the healing process has finally reached a point of closure for those closest to Rog and what he meant to this small, tightly-knit community. For all of those involved in the memorial, especially my Prowler bubbas at VAQ-129 (thanks for the flyby, it brought tears to many an eye), "Gone but not forgotten" says it all.
ATC(AW) Lee M. Metcalf, USN
In August of 1995 I visited the Vietnam Memorial in D.C. Only 18 years old at the time, this memorial changed my life. Since I wanted to remember the feeling of that day and being from Washington State, I choose Rodrick B. Lester as my connection. I had searched online many times and didn't find much information on "Rog" back then, but now, 11 years later after wearing this brass bracelet on my wrist, I took another look. This site is wonderful and I am so glad to hear more about the man I have thought of everyday for years. I hope someday to make a trip out to Morton to visit his hometown. Knowing more today then I did in 1995 I am well aware of why each man's name is on that list and the hardship they all had to bear.
All my thoughts and prayers to all past and current military men and women. God Bless!
Hello, my name is Mary Beth Javorek and I also have a POW bracelet with Lt Roderick B Lester on it. I had received it Dec 24, 1972 as a Christmas present. I was a Senior in high school at the time and was always under the impression that it was one bracelet per POW or MIA. I have worn his bracelet for almost two-thirds of my lifetime. He has been with me in my happiest and darkest moments and I feel that he is part of my family because he is never away from me.
I know that it was always said that the bracelets were supposed to be sent to their loved ones once they were found or came home, but I honestly do not think that I could have ever parted with it. He has meant too much to my life too.
Through the magic of the internet, I now know more about him and I had been so grateful to see pictures of him to put a face onto his name. I think it is really great that people have the websites dedicated to the POWs and MIAs because it really is true that they are "gone but not forgotten", and someday when we meet, I will be able to let him know that he was never forgotten.
Mary Beth Javorek
A note from the staff at The Virtual Wall: There is no rule that POW/MIA bracelets are supposed to be given to the family. It is our experience that most relatives of MIAs wish to have the bracelet kept by the person who originally wore it.
My Father was Master Chief Petty Officer Joe Neal Felts, part of the Knight Riders and active during the deployment of Lieutenant Commander Lester.
I rememember talking to Lieutenant Commander Lester at a picnic and him asking me if I wanted to be a Navy pilot. I remember his smile.
I was 14 at the time and these guys were superheroes.
I remember how everyone felt when that plane went down.
From a child who met him,
In the summer of 2007, I visited an Army-Navy store in Hyannisport, Cape Cod. I wanted to come away with something to remember my visit, and I saw the basket full of POW-MIA bracelets. I picked one at random, and it happened to be LCDR Lester's.
At first, I kind of saw it as a cool thing to have. But as time went on I felt more and more drawn to the bracelet. This was a man who had fought and died in a terrible war. He should never be forgotten.
I entered his name online, and the information I saw crushed me. I know now that I have a strong bond to this bracelet, and I hope for the return of LCDR Rog Lester in the near future.
Notes from The Virtual WallOn the night of 19/20 August 1972 Lieutenants Roderick B. Lester and Harry S. Mossman launched from USS Kitty Hawk in A-6A BuNo 157018, call sign VICEROY 502. They were assigned to a night single-aircraft, low-level strike on a transhipment point at Da Mon Toi, near Cam Pha. The weather was poor with a low ceiling and thunderstorms. They did not return.
When search and rescue efforts failed to locate either aircraft or crew, Lester and Mossman were classed as Missing in Action. They did not return with the POWs in early 1973, nor did any of the returnees have knowledge of them. The Secretary of the Navy eventually approved Presumptive Findings of Death for both men, Harry Mossman on 21 Feb 1975 and Roderick Lester on 02 Aug 1978.
In this photo, taken on 08 March 1972 by Greg Wood at NAS Cubi Point, VA-52 aircrew were preparing to depart Cubi Point to fly aboard USS Kitty Hawk at the beginning of her first line period. Harry Mossman is in the back row, third from the left; Roderick "Rog" Lester is sitting in the driver's seat. The photo was taken from the Intruder Association's Viceroy 502 web page.
Although the government has not announced the identification of their remains, the Joint Task Force - Full Accounting (JTF-FA) people have located and excavated the crash site, recovering wreckage and repatriatiating human remains. The crash location, as given in a 1993 JTF-FA report, is on Cu Xu Island, about 48 kilometers due east of Cam Pha, NVN.
UPDATESThe government has announced the repatriation and positive identification of the remains of Lieutenant Commander Harry S. Mossman, USN, who was buried in a military ceremony on Monday, 30 August 2004, at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent, Washington.
As of 12 June 2008 the DoD's Personnel Missing - Southeast Asia (PMSEA) Office has not reported the recovery and identification of LCDR Lester's remains.
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 23 May 2003
Last updated 08/10/2009