Holden, Thomas James, 1stLt

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 Service Details
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Last Rank
First Lieutenant
Last Primary MOS
0302-Infantry Officer
Last MOSGroup
Primary Unit
1966-1966, 0302, 2nd Bn, 3rd Marine Regiment (2/3)/Golf Co
Service Years
1960 - 1966

First Lieutenant


 Last Photo 
 Personal Details 

Home State
New Jersey
New Jersey
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Sgt David A. Stutesman to remember Marine 1stLt Thomas James Holden.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
Hasbrouck Heights
Last Address
Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey

Casualty Date
Oct 22, 1966
Hostile, Died
Gun, Small Arms Fire
Quang Nam (Vietnam)
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
Saint Mary's and Joseph's Cemetery - Fort Edward, New York
Wall/Plot Coordinates
11E 097

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Association Memberships
Vietnam Veterans MemorialThe National Gold Star Family RegistryNew Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  2013, Vietnam Veterans Memorial [Verified]2
  2015, The National Gold Star Family Registry
  2015, New Jersey Vietnam Veterans Memorial [Verified]

 Photo Album   (More...

 Ribbon Bar

 Unit Assignments
3rd Marine RegimentIII MEF/3rd Marine Division3rd Marine Regiment/2nd Bn, 3rd Marine Regiment (2/3)
  1966-1966, 0302, 3rd Marine Regiment
  1966-1966, 0302, III MEF/3rd Marine Division
  1966-1966, 0302, 2nd Bn, 3rd Marine Regiment (2/3)/Golf Co
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1966-1966 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase II Campaign (1966-67)/Operation Kern
  1966-1966 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase II Campaign (1966-67)/Operation Allegheny
  1966-1966 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Campaign (1965-66)/Operation Double Eagle I
  1966-1967 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase II Campaign (1966-67)
 Colleges Attended
United States Naval Academy
  1959-1964, United States Naval Academy1
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
UTM grid reference is AT870380
Exec Officer Golf 2/3

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. 3rd Platoon's Commander was critically wounded and its Platoon Sergeant killed. In addition, six squad leaders were killed or seriously wounded. At the same time, a stream to the Marines' rear, easily forded an hour earlier, had risen to the point of being nearly unfordable. 2nd Plt, 2/3, moved to the south side of the stream and established a base of fire to support withdrawal of the Marines on the north side and India 3/9 was ordered to move without delay to link up with Golf 2/3. By 1730 the remnants of the 1st and 3rd Platoons, Golf 2/3, had managed to cross the swollen stream, bring their dead and wounded with them. India 3/9 also had joined. All high ground within 300 meters of the Command Post was secured and occupied and a night defensive position established. Fog, rain, high winds, and continuing enemy fire made helo resupply and medevac impossible - only one helo was able to get in before nightfall.
Abysmal weather continued through the night, but at first light on 23 Oct India 3/9 and 2nd Plt Golf 2/3 forded the stream and assaulted the enemy positions on the north bank. The weather cleared briefly just after noon, allowing helo resupply and the evacuation of all casualties. As the Marine assault continued, the NVA/VC commander decided to withdraw. Two groups of about 200 enemy troops each were sighted and brought under fire by supporting artillery. At this point elements from the 51st ARVN Regiment and a third Marine rifle company, Echo 2/1, were detailed to move into the area to block the NVA/VC withdrawal.
The weather broke during the early hours of 24 Oct, permitting helo resupply and fire support for the ground forces. Echo 2/1 was lifted in at 0900 and the ARVN troops, moving by foot, arrived by midafternoon. By nightfall the Marines had secured all assigned objectives and established defensive positions.
Beginning at first light on the 25th the combined forces swept the battle area under clear skies. They met no resistance but did find 148 NVA/VC bodies. All forces were withdrawn from the area during the afteroon of the 25th, terminating Operation KERN.

Although there were other Marine and ARVN casualties during the five days of Operation KERN, the only known deaths were eight Marines killed during the initial assault on Ap Ba on the 22nd:

  • 1stLt Robert A. Bates, Lake Forest, IL (Silver Star)
  • 1stLt Thomas J. Holden, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ (Silver Star, 2 awards)
  • SSgt Louis J. Reed, White Plains, NY (Silver Star)
  • Sgt Alan I. Smith, Hamden, CT
  • Cpl James L. Hightower, Brownsville, KY
  • LCpl Charles J. Riley, Tinley Park, IL
  • LCpl Francis P. Rosebrugh, Geneseo, NY
  • Pfc Alonzo A. Teague, Middlesboro, KY

Service number 089419

Silver Star

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

Silver Star

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
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