STEVE R LUKE - BM2
- DATE OF BIRTH:
- November 30, 1945
- DATE OF CASUALTY:
- December 06, 1968
- BRANCH OF SERVICE:
- South Vietnam
Steve Ralph Luke was born on November 30, 1945, in Provo, UT. Steve later moved to New Jersey and married Linda Ann Lehman on June 3, 1967. They resided in Keyport, NJ, and he was a member of VFW Post 4247 of Keyport.
Luke enlisted in the US Navy and began serving on December 28, 1962. He attained the rank of Boatswains Mate Second Class (BM2). In Vietnam, he was a crewman aboard the Swift Boats, which operated out of Cat Lo, 40 miles southwest of Vietnam. He and the other crewmembers were responsible for patrolling some 300 miles of South Vietnam's coast.
Luke was killed in action on December 6, 1968. He died of gunshot wounds when his patrol boat came under hostile fire on the Giang Thanh River in South Vietnam.
Luke was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
Luke's name was added to the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans' Memorial in 1998. Linda Hurden of Long Branch said her first husband, Steve Luke, was overlooked initially because he spent most of his life in his native Utah.
After she and Luke corresponded as pen pals during his first tour of duty with the Navy in the mid 1960's, Luke came to New Jersey in January 1967, and they were married that June. He went to Vietnam in December and was killed a year later on December 6, 1968.
Steve quit school and joined the Navy at age 17. He spent the first 4 years in the Navy with the Pacific Fleet. While stationed on the Taluga, we became pen pals, thanks to my brother, Bill, who was on board with Steve. The Taluga was off the coast of Vietnam. We wrote back and forth for a year.
When Steve re-enlisted, he requested the East Coast, hoping we would meet. In the meantime, he volunteered to serve again in Vietnam. Steve did get transferred to Newport, RI, to serve on the Cadmus. We met in January 1967, and we married in June 1967. Right after we married, his transfer came through to go to Vietnam, this time to serve on the Swift Boats. Steve left on November 30, 1967, this was his 22nd birthday, the last time I saw him. He spent a couple of months in California for special training.
While on patrol, their boat came under attack by the VC, the boat was hit. A large hole was made just at water level. Steve was hit below his eye by shrapnel. This didn't stop him at all. He saved the boat from sinking by packing the hole with life preservers. This is why he was awarded the Bronze Star.
On December 6, 1968, while on river patrol, the boat was attacked by 40 VC, and Steve was hit and killed.
Steve never had the chance to receive his award. This award was presented to me in March 1969, at the Federal Building in NY. Steve was a very likeable guy. Anyone who had the chance to meet him, really liked him.
Written by Linda Luke Hurden, Wife
November 8, 2001
Sources: Linda Hurden (wife) and NJVVMF.
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