• bayville
  • Ocean
  • May 10, 1949
  • July 01, 1968
  • Marines
  • RANK:
  • PFC
  • KIA
  • South Vietnam


William Walter Hester was born on May 10, 1949, one of six children of Edward and Dorothy Williams Hester. William's military records give his hometown as Philadelphia, PA; however, he lived in Berkeley Township with his uncle, William Hester, a township police officer, prior to his enlistment. His home of record is Bayville, NJ. He attended Central Regional High School and was on the basketball team.

At the time he enlisted in the Marines in Philadelphia, Hester's parents had returned to the United States from an overseas assignment. His father had a 21-year career in the Air Force.

It was a glorious day for a family reunion and the Hester family was in the midst of a celebration in the Manitou Park section of Berkeley Township on the July 4, 1968, when devastating news turned it into a day of grief. Word was received that US Marine Private First Class (PFC) William Hester had been killed in action on July 1, 1968, serving his country in Vietnam.

Hester was on a "search and destroy" mission in Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam, when his unit was ambushed and he was killed on July 1, 1968. For his action on that mission, William Hester was posthumously awarded the Silver Star. The young Marine was a grenadier with Company I, Third Battalion, Fourth Marines, Third Marine Division.

The 1969 Class at Central Regional High School dedicated its yearbook to the memories of two schoolmates who died as heroes in Vietnam. Marine Private Robert Edward Church was killed in action on May 16, 1968. Their Marine citations and photographs were published in the 1969 yearbook.

At the time he was killed, two of his brothers were also in the military. Jake was serving with the Army in Vietnam and Edward, a Marine, was stationed in Hawaii. At home were Noah, Charles and Mary Ann.

Hester was awarded the Silver Star. His citation reads:
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.


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