From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Thelman Lester '25

Date of birth: March 23, 1904

Date of death: August 6, 1928

Age: 24

Lucky Bag

From the 1925 Lucky Bag:


Thelman was lost on August 6, 1928 when the plane he was piloting crashed near San Diego, California.

He earned his wings as naval aviator #3403 on April 7, 1928.

He was survived by his wife, parents, a brother, and three sisters. Both his father and his father-in-law were justices in the Oklahoma State Supreme Court. He and his wife had only been married for two months.

Navy Directories & Officer Registers

The "Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps" was published annually from 1815 through at least the 1970s; it provided rank, command or station, and occasionally billet until the beginning of World War II when command/station was no longer included. Scanned copies were reviewed and data entered from the mid-1840s through 1922, when more-frequent Navy Directories were available.

The Navy Directory was a publication that provided information on the command, billet, and rank of every active and retired naval officer. Single editions have been found online from January 1915 and March 1918, and then from three to six editions per year from 1923 through 1940; the final edition is from April 1941.

The entries in both series of documents are sometimes cryptic and confusing. They are often inconsistent, even within an edition, with the name of commands; this is especially true for aviation squadrons in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Alumni listed at the same command may or may not have had significant interactions; they could have shared a stateroom or workspace, stood many hours of watch together… or, especially at the larger commands, they might not have known each other at all. The information provides the opportunity to draw connections that are otherwise invisible, though, and gives a fuller view of the professional experiences of these alumni in Memorial Hall.

January 1928

Ensign, under instruction, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida

Others at this command:

July 1928

Ensign, Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 3B, USS Lexington

Others at this command:

Others at or embarked at USS Lexington:

LT George Cuddihy '18 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 3B)
ENS William Graham, Jr. '25 (USS Lexington)
ENS Eugene Karpe '26 (USS Lexington)
ENS Harold Sheehan '27 (USS Lexington)
ENS William Potts '27 (USS Lexington)

Class of 1925

Thelman is one of 30 members of the Class of 1925 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

The "category" links below lead to lists of related Honorees; use them to explore further the service and sacrifice of the alumni in Memorial Hall.