SD Vietnam War Memorial Dedication Please Support the Memorial Soldiers, Heroes, and teachers information



In Memory of U.S. Marine Corps Second Lieutenant

Lester Arthur Watson

Sturgis, South Dakota, Meade County

August 22, 1937 -- July 20, 1968

Killed in Action in Thua Thien Province, South Vietnam

Lester Arthur Watson was born on August 22, 1937, in New Underwood, South Dakota, to Squire and Vivian (Bowman) Watson. Lester had two brothers, Jeff and James, and he had three sisters, Rita, Connie, and Clara Ann, who died in 1944. Their hometown was Sturgis in Meade County. Lester went to Sturgis High School, where he graduated in 1955. After high school, he first entered the Marine Corps. After his first enlistment period, he came home, attended, and then graduated from Black Hills State University in Spearfish in 1966. Lester never married. He enjoyed drawing and writing poetry. He worked as a surveyor and in security at the Minute Man Missile sites near Belle Fourche. It is said that he always had his nose in a book, even as a child. Lester is remembered as quiet and kind of shy. He liked sports such as golf, tennis, basketball and softball and sometimes played them with friends and family.

After a seven-year absence from the Marines, he re-entered the Marine Corps at Quantico, Virginia, on December 8, 1967. After further training and being commissioned as an officer, Lt. Watson arrived in Vietnam on July 1, 1968 and was assigned to lead the 1st Platoon of “D” Company, 1st Battalion of the 27th Regiment, 1st Marine Division stationed just south of Da Nang.

On July 17, 1968, just days before his death and just shortly after he arrived in Vietnam, Lester wrote a letter to his brother, Jeff. A few paragraphs read as follows:

Finally, you may have heard from the folks where I am over here. I have been put on temporary duty as a security for convoys running from Da Nang north to Phu Bai. My platoon will be on this duty at least this week and possibly one or two more. Then we will be back down south of Da Nang as usual. In case you’re wondering, I can’t think of a thing I need for my birthday. You could go down and have a steak at the steak house for me.

The USO shows and I don’t get along. The day we left camp for this duty they had a show we missed. The day we left Da Nang for Phu Bai and the day we left Phu Bai for Da Nang they had USO shows.

I have to get my gear packed to pull out for Da Nang this morn so will sign off. Let me know how things go there and I’ll keep you informed on the course of the war.

2nd Lieutenant Lester Arthur Watson was killed in action on July 20, 1968, in Thua Thien Province, South Vietnam “as result from fragmentation to the head and body when the vehicle he was riding in was hit by a hostile rocket round while on a convoy.” The death of Lester was really hard on his brother Jim because “Lester was his mentor and best friend.” The remains of Lt. Watson were returned to Sturgis, and he was buried with military honors at the Black Hills National Cemetery.

Photo on left: taken by Lester’s brother, Jim, when they were in college at BHSU together

Lester Watson is currently survived by two sisters, Rita Doyle of Santa Barbara, CA, and Connie Watson of Sturgis, SD; and one brother, James Watson of Meridian, ID.

In closing, his sister, Connie, had the following to say on behalf of the family: “Lester was a kind, gentle man who was a good friend to everyone.”

This entry was respectfully submitted by Carson Christofferson, 8th grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, on February 3, 2006. Information for this entry was provided by the Watson family and friends via Connie Watson, Sturgis, sister of Lester, an application for a Vietnam veterans bonus, and articles from the Rapid City Journal from July 26, 1968, and July 31, 1968. Profile approval by Connie Watson.


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