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home : premium content : news May 24, 2016

3/13/2013 10:48:00 AM
Leavenworth WWII veteran Lester Terry gets proper recognition
Ian Dunn

Patrick Terry could not help but notice the plaque at Leavenworth City Hall that recognizes Leavenworth area men who served in World War II. You see the plaque on the wall as you enter city hall. But one name appeared to be missing on the plaque, his father, the late Lester Terry.

So the younger Terry set out to right this apparent omission. He contacted the local VFW Commander Tom Northam, who typically helps out local vets with any issues related to military service.

"Patrick Terry contacted me. We talked and he told me about his father. I asked him for his DD214, if he had it and other papers," Northam said. "One, I had to identify that he was military and the other that he was here. He came up with six pages of material."

The DD214 is the document a serviceman receives when they are released from active duty. Terry provided Northam with that, also with his Leavenworth High School diploma and his obituary. For Northam, this was all the proof that was needed.

"They did some investigation, and by God, he rates being here," he said. "He had those papers. That's what I asked for as proof. It was good enough for me."

Northam approached Leavenworth City Councilman Tibor Lak about getting Terry's name placed on the WWII plaque at city hall. Lak took the request to Sue Cragun, an executive assistant at the city of Leavenworth. For Cragun and others at city hall, the plaque in the hallway was a bit of mystery. She said no one in the office knew the plaque was for local WWII vets.

"It is for people from Leavenworth and the local area that served in WWII. Just people who served, not just fallen heroes,"

Cragun said. "You can see some of the original nameplates. Names have been added like Lester Terry. People have slipped through the cracks."

Lester James Terry died at age 68 in 1988. He grew up in Leavenworth and graduated from LHS in 1939. He served in the U.S. Navy during WWII on U.S.S. Tatum, receiving four medals during campaigns in the Philippines and Asiatic-Pacific as a motor machinist's mate.

After the service, he lived in Michigan, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Florida and finally Wenatchee in 1978, where he worked at Alcoa, retiring in 1982.

"He grew up here but moved away. I think he belonged on the plaque, but he just moved away. That's why he slipped through the cracks," Cragun said.

Cragun had a name plate for Terry made and added to the plaque. She said they had never before been approached about the plaque. But now they know what it is for, she hopes to find out about other people who should be added to the plaque.

Ian Dunn can be reached at 548-5286 or

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