Lucian L. Vestal
First Lieutenant,United States Marine Corps
a contemporary press report:
SARASOTA, FLORIDA -- Lucian L. "Lou" Vestal, 77, a business and civic leader and highly decorated war hero, died of cancer July 19, 2003.
"He enlisted in the Marines at 17 and received a Purple Heart at Okinawa during World War II," said his wife, Greta Lee. "Then he was called up again during the Korean War and earned another Purple Heart and the Navy Cross, the nation's second-highest award, for his heroic action in leading a bayonet charge against a heavily fortified North Korean position."
Vestal was born August 10, 1925, in Whitewright, Texas, one of 14 children. Six of his seven brothers served in World War II. His brother William died on Iwo Jima.
Vestal received a bachelor's degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a master's degree in finance from New York University. He was a planning director for the Pure Oil Co. of Chicago, senior financial executive for Weyerhauser Co. in Tacoma, Washington, treasurer of Sunray DX Oil Co. of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and vice president f Tesoro Petroleum Corp. of San Antonio.
He came to Sarasota in 1972 as president of Palmer Bank, and later owned Cortez Marina. He then became a stockbroker at Paine Webber and R.W. Baird and Co.
He was past president of the Better Government Association of Sarasota County and treasurer of the Sarasota Yacht Club for seven years. He was past president of the Sarasota-Manatee Council of the Navy League, which has nominated him for the National Veteran of the Year Award.
Survivors also include a daughter, Denise V. Simon of Atlanta; sisters Myra Schultz, Zoe Bunch, Emma Emmott and Louise Corgill; brothers R. Trendon and Ferd S.; two grandsons; and seven stepchildren.
A celebration of life service will be at 3
p.m. Thursday at the Sarasota Yacht Club. Burial will be in Arlington National
First Lieutenant Lucian L. Vestal of "Fox" Company, 2d Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment was a man with an easy smile who liked to joke with his platoon. The smile left his face when he received his mission on May 28 to make a frontal assault across open ground near Hangye and take a hill.
He ordered his men to fix bayonets and led them out. There is something inherently eerie about the command to fix bayonets in combat. The sound of cold metal sliding from the scabbard, the metallic click of the knife locking to the rifle lug and bonding with its man chills the soul more than chambering a round. Men can chamber a round when hunting game or on the rifle range. Marines seldom fix naked steel unless against other men when death is imminent; one-on-one, muno u mum. The site of Marines advancing with fixed bayonets also has a disturbing psychological effect on the enemy. The Communists opened up with everything they had; machine guns, small-arms fire and grenades.
Marines around Vestal were dropping and only a few feet from the enemy position, Vestal himself was painfully wounded in the stomach. They closed with the Communists, driving them in fear from their positions while Vestal calmly redeployed his platoon, directed the evacuation of his wounded and set up a screen of protective fire. They evacuated Vestal with the last of the wounded. He used his smile to hide his pain and again joked with his fellow Marines, who promptly recommended Vestal for the Navy Cross.
VESTAL, LUCIAN L
1ST LT US MARINE CORPS
VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 11/01/1943 - 11/01/1951
DATE OF BIRTH: 08/10/1925
DATE OF DEATH: 07/19/2003
DATE OF INTERMENT: 09/04/2003
BURIED AT: SECTION 64 SITE 948
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
VESTAL, DOROTHY S