• toms river
  • Ocean
  • January 30, 1947
  • February 19, 1968
  • Army
  • RANK:
  • SP4
  • KIA
  • South Vietnam


Thomas Edward Lilley was born on January 30, 1947, and raised in Toms River, NJ. He graduated from Toms River High School South in June 1965, and enjoyed bowling, football, golf, drawing, collecting coins and stamps and designing blueprints for homes.

He entered the US Army on July 13, 1966, where he attained the rank of Specialist 4 (SP4). He was sent to Vietnam as a member of the Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 25th Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division.

On February 19, 1968, Lilley was killed in action.

He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Vietnam Campaign Ribbon, the Vietnam Military Merit Medal, the Sharpshooter Badge with Rifle Bar, the Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal and the Purple Heart.

Tom was the oldest of eight children and such a good big brother to his four brothers and three sisters.

My mother and dad had four girls and no boys. Tom was loved so by my dad, because he never had a son. Dad started to teach Tom how to bowl and how to play golf when he was only 10 or so - my husband didn't play golf or bowl, but he was happy that my Dad helped Tom become such a good golfer and bowler.

When Tom and my oldest daughter, Kathy, were in high school, Tom always watched out for her and made sure that Kathy didn't go out with bad boys. Tom was the one who introduced Kathy to Tom Palmieri and years later my daughter married him. As a matter of fact, Tom Palmieri was the one who escorted my son's body back to the United States. At first they couldn't locate Tom Palmieri in Vietnam and when they finally located him, our son's body was already on the way back to the states - but Tom Palmieri met up with Tom's body and escorted him back to Toms River, NJ.

It took a long time for my husband, myself and our seven children to get over Tom's death. My youngest son Ken was 2½ when Tom was killed. Ken was too young - but he grew up knowing Tom by his pictures.

My husband died almost 2 years ago and is now with our son in Toms River.

I have to tell you, Tom's being killed in Vietnam didn't deter my sons from joining the services. Warren Jr. Lilley wanted to join right after Tom was killed, but Warren wasn't quite 17 and the officer that came to our home talked him out of it. Thank God!!!

But later as my other sons grew up - Bob enlisted in the Air Force and was stationed in Washington as a military policeman and was sent to Korea at a later date. Jim enlisted in the Air Force too and became a military policeman also - spent four years at Myrtle Beach Air Force Base and now is a Harry County Detective Sargent. Kenneth joined the South Carolina National Guard. Warren Jr. did not go in any of the services, but is a Senior Police Officer in Ocean City, NJ.

My daughter Kathy just celebrated her 31st wedding anniversary to Tom Palmieri. My daughter Judy's husband was also in the Air Force and she is married 27 years. And my youngest daughter Pat is a Drug & Alcohol Abuse Counselor for Manchester Township High School.

Written by Frances M. Lilley, Mother

Sources: Frances Lilley (mother) and NJVVMF.


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