• hasbrouck heights
  • Bergen
  • August 23, 1941
  • October 22, 1966
  • Marines
  • RANK:
  • 1LT
  • KIA
  • South Vietnam


Thomas J. Holden was born on August 23, 1941.  His home of record is Hasbrouck Heights, NJ.  He attended St. Mary's High School in Rutherford.  He played varsity football, baseball and basketball.  Upon graduation from St. Mary's, Thomas attended Bullis Prep in Silver Springs, MD.

Holden was accepted into the US Naval Academy at Annapolis.  He was a varsity guard on the Navy football team and played in the 1963 Cotton Bowl.  He graduated in 1963. 

Holden served in the US Marine Corps and attained the rank of First Lieutenant (1LT).

Holden was killed in action on October 22, 1966, while leading a patrol against guerillas near Danang. 

The following is taken from The Thomas J. Holden Memorial Award presentation at the annual St. Mary's Most Valuable Player of the Homecoming Game dinner.

Thomas J. Holden graduated from St. Mary's High School in 1959.  While attending St. Mary's, he participated and earned nine varsity letters in the sports of baseball, basketball and football.  He was a senior class officer, a member of the Journalism Club, and on the staff of the school paper, The Corona.

The sport in which he excelled most was football.  As a guard and linebacker, his determination was a source of inspiration to all who were privileged to play along side him.  A testament of his ability, heart and desire can best be told with the story of a game against Don Bosco High School.  With the score tied 6-6 at halftime and the offense not moving the ball, Tommy was switched to halfback, a position he had never played, and he led the Gaels to victory.  He scored 3 touchdowns, gained over 180 yards rushing, and even had a touchdown called back.

After graduating from St. Mary's, Tom had to improve his speed and size in order to pursue his dream of playing football and attending the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD.  He first enrolled at Bulles Prep School in Virginia in preparation for the Academy.  At Annapolis, it was Tom's fierce determination and aggressiveness, which helped coaches and teammates overlook his small physical stature and earn him a place for three years on the Naval Academy varsity football team.

His final football game at Navy was in the 1964 Cotton Bowl, where he started at linebacker.  The game pitted the #2 ranked navy team against the nation's #1 ranked team, University of Texas.  He was credited with 12 unassisted tackles.

Upon graduation from Annapolis in 1964, Tom accepted a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the US Marine Corps.  For two years he continued to play football for the base team at Quantico, VA. He was honored both years by being selected to the All Marine First Team as linebacker.

In January of 1966, he was assigned as a First Lieutenant to a post in Vietnam.  While there, he was awarded two Silver Stars for bravery.  One, when he took charge of a platoon after his commander was wounded in battle.  The second Silver Star was awarded posthumously.  He was leading a patrol against a gorilla force near Da Nang, and at the head of his group, he was killed by a Vietcong shotgun.  It was October 22, 1966.

His determination, competitiveness and aggressive spirit on the football field were the embodiment of his attitude and approach toward defending his country in Vietnam.  For these reasons, we at St. Mary's, present this award annually to celebrate and remind us of the life, love, and spirit that was Thomas J. Holden, our hero.

The following is an excerpt from the autobiography of Roger Staubach, former Dallas Cowboy and member of the NFL's Pro Football Hall of Fame.  He was a teammate of Thomas J. Holden at the Naval Academy.  The book is entitled, Roger Staubach - First Down, Lifetime to Go.

"He was some guy.  He was a guard on offense, but played linebacker on defense at the Academy.  He was one of those real hard-nosed guys, all guts - the kind of guy you find on the specialty teams in Pro Football."

Sources: Tom Tiefenbacher (friend), various websites and NJVVMF.


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