THOMAS J. HOLDEN, 1LT, USMC

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Thomas Holden '64

Date of birth: August 23, 1941

Date of death: October 22, 1966

Age: 25

Lucky Bag

From the 1964 Lucky Bag:


Loss

From Virtual Wall:

Operation KERN was a combination recon in force/search and destroy operation in the Khe Le Valley area of Quang Nam Province between 20 and 25 October 1966. Conducted by the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, KERN initially involved two rifle companies - Golf 2/3 and India 3/9. Elements of the 3rd NVA Regiment, supported by local VC forces, were known to be based in the area and had conducted an unsuccessful attack on on the ARVN camp at Khuong Thuong on the night of 16/17 October. India 3/9 Marines entered the Khe Le Valley late on 20 October by march from An Hoa, but the fall monsoon was in full swing and low overcasts, torrential rains, and high winds hampered both ground and air operations. India 3/9 and Golf 2/3 were moved by air to their respective initial positions on the afternoon of the 21st. Although the insertions were done under fire, there were no casualties among either the helo crews or the Marine infantrymen. Gale force winds and torrential rains began again at about 1700, and the two forces established separate night defensive positions under miserable conditions. The night of 21/22 October passed without incident.

At first light both companies moved out toward their respective objectives. The morning was uneventful with no contact until Golf 2/3 started receiving sporadic sniper fire at about 1300. That changed at 1350, when 1st Platoon, Golf 2/3, received heavy fire. The Golf 2/3 Command Group and 3rd Platoon, Golf 2/3, moved up to assist 1st Platoon. Within short order the Company Executive Officer, 1stLt Thomas Holden, and the 1st Platoon Commander, 1stLt Robert Bates, were killed, as was the 1st Platoon's Platoon Sergeant. …

From the February 1967 issue of SHIPMATE.

From the February 1967 issue of SHIPMATE:

1st Lt. Thomas J. Holden, USMC, died as the result of a gunshot wound from hostile rifle fire while on an operation near Da Nang, Vietnam, on 22 Oct. Interment was in the family plot by his mother at St. Mary's Cemetery in Bamgall, Dutchess County, New York.

Lt. Holden was born in New York City, and was graduated from the Naval Academy in 1964. After completing basic training at Marine Corps School, he served at Quantico until December 1965. He was assigned to Vietnam in January 1966, where he served with the Second Battalion, Third Marines; in August he received a leg wound, then returned to duty as commanding officer of G Company, which he served until his death.

He is survived by his father, Mr. Thomas W. Holden, and a brother, James F. Holden of 100 Chester Place, Englewood, N. J. 07631-

Tom was survived by his father.

Obituary

From Hasbrouck Heights of Bergen, New Jersey:

Born 8/23/41

St. Mary’s H.S., Rutherford Class of ’59, earned nine varsity letters

U.S. Naval Academy, Class of ‘64

Played in the 1964 Cotton Bowl for the National Championship vs. Texas as the starting linebacker. Accounted for 12 unassisted tackles. The quarterback of that team was Roger Staubach.

Attended Quantico, VA, The Basic School

Played football for the Quantico Marines and earned "All-Marine" honors

Operation Double Eagle

Operation Allegheny - awarded Silver Star, Purple Heart

Operation Kern, promoted to Exec. Officer of Golf Co.

While his former 1st platoon was pinned down by heavy volume of automatic weapons fire, 1st Lt. Holden led 3rd platoon to aid the 1st, against the wishes of the Company C.O. Lt. Holden conspicuously exposed himself to enemy fire while directing 3rd Platoon’s base of fire. Upon learning that the 1st Platoon Commander and Sergeant were wounded, Lt. Holden took over command to extract the 1st Platoon. While attempting to gain superiority and attack the enemy, Lt. Holden, fell mortally wounded by a single round through his heart.

KIA Saturday, 22 October 1966, AN HOA, 25 yrs old

Awarded a second Silver Star (Posthumously), Purple Heart (Posthumously)

Remembrances

From Virtual Wall:

One of Saint Mary's High School's finest. Graduate of the United States Naval Academy. An inspiration for all who knew him. Football player extraordinare.

From a friend,
Captain William F. Stoehs, USNR (Ret)
wstoehs44@hotmail.com
29 May 2006

From Hasbrouck Heights of Bergen, New Jersey:

"I was with Tom when he decided to become an infantry officer in the Marine Corps. He knew that war was coming in Vietnam and he rightfully felt that he would best be able to serve his country and the Corps as an infantry platoon commander. Once in combat, he proved the wisdom of that decision. Tom was an inspired combat leader – one of the best. His men loved him. Your letter inspired me to reread the documents that chronicled his courage and leadership under fire during his 10 months in Vietnam. In doing so, I was deeply moved. In the true sense, Tom Holden was a man of honor, of courage and of commitment." /s/ C. C. Krulak, General, U.S.M.C., Commandant of the Marine Corps

The letter was to a Marine officer, son of Tom's roommate, in 1997.

Silver Star

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to First Lieutenant Thomas James Holden (MCSN: 0-89419), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as a Platoon Commander with Company G, Second Battalion, Third Marines, THIRD Marine Division (Rein.), FMF, in the Republic of Vietnam on 23 August 1966. During Operation ALLEGHENY, First Lieutenant Holden's platoon was dispatched to relieve a platoon sized patrol which was pinned down by heavy crossfire from enemy automatic weapons. Enemy strength was estimated at nearly sixty and the ambush had occurred just 200 meters from the Company perimeter. As his platoon neared the ambush site, it was also brought under intense automatic weapons fire, coupled with grenades and M-79 rounds thrown and fired from the underbrush and the trees to the front and both flanks. Realizing the seriousness of their situation, First Lieutenant Holden began moving from man to man and squad to squad, encouraging them forward to regain the momentum of the assault. Fearlessly exposing himself to enemy fire, he led his men in a furious attack, routing the enemy and rescuing the beleaguered patrol. His inspiring leadership, aggressive fighting spirit and courageous initiative upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.

Action Date: August 23, 1966
Service: Marine Corps
Rank: First Lieutenant
Company: Company G
Battalion: 2d Battalion
Regiment: 3d Marines
Division: 3d Marine Division (Rein.), FMF

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting a Gold Star in lieu of a Second Award of the Silver Star (Posthumously) to First Lieutenant Thomas James Holden (MCSN: 0-89419), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as Executive Officer of Company G, Second Battalion, Third Marines, THIRD Marine Division (Rein.), FMF, in the Ap Ba Area in the Republic of Vietnam on 22 October 1966. During an assault through open rice paddies in a torrential rain, the Company's Third Platoon became pinned down by a heavy volume of small-arms and automatic weapons fire. First Lieutenant Holden moved aggressively to aid the Platoon. Upon learning that both the Platoon Commander and the Platoon Sergeant had been wounded, he took command of the platoon and directed the base of fire in an attempt to gain superiority over the enemy while simultaneously directing the extraction of that portion of the platoon which was pinned down. Although constantly exposed to the heavy volume of accurate enemy fire, he resolutely continued in the attack until he fell, mortally wounded. By his outstanding leadership, indomitable fighting spirit and unwavering devotion to duty, First Lieutenant Holden upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

Action Date: October 22, 1966
Service: Marine Corps
Rank: First Lieutenant
Company: Company G
Battalion: 2d Battalion
Regiment: 3d Marines
Division: 3d Marine Division (Rein.), FMF

Related Articles

Barry Hooper '64 was also in 22nd Company.


Class of 1964

Thomas is one of 25 members of the Class of 1964 in Memorial Hall.