Sunday, January 14, 2018

WW2 Fallen - Silver Star hero John Lightsey, 81st Infantry Division

Silver Star hero Captain John Lightsey fell in the Battle of Anguar where the photo of this other soldier was taken.
John Harold Lightsey never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

He was born on January 14, 1918 in South Carolina. His parents Ralph and Eula were also both born in South Carolina. His father worked as a hardware store salesman and later as a farmer. John had one older brother, three younger brothers, and five younger sisters. By 1940 John had completed four years at Clemson College and was working as an agronomist.

He enlisted in the army on September 14,1941, following the example of his older brother Ralph who had enlisted in 1940. While he was in the service he married Janie Phillips in December 1942. They had one daughter, Janice. He became a captain in Company G, 3rd Battalion, 322nd Infantry Regiment, 81st Infantry Division (Nicknamed "Wildcat"). While still in training stateside, John learned that his older brother, who training pilots to fly, had been killed in a plane crash on February 2, 1943.

The 81st ID shipped out for Hawaii in June 1944. The 81st ID was given the assignment of taking Anguar Island in the Palau Islands chain. Captain Lightsey landed with his company on September 11. He was slightly wounded on September 20, the day the Americans attacked "the bowl" which the Japanese stubbornly defended for five more days. After that the Americans focused on sealing in the remaining Japanese in their caves. Captain Lightsey was killed on September 28, 1944, two days before the island was considered to be secure. I don't know any of the details regarding the Silver Star he was awarded. In 166 days of combat, 281 men from the 81st ID earned the Silver Star.

His grave is at Fairfax Cemetery in South Carolina. I don't know what happened to his widow or daughter.

Thank you John and Ralph for your sacrifice. Let's Earn It for John and Ralph.

Last year on this date I profiled Alaska airman Frank Cranston as well as another better known Alaska airman named Charlton Heston. You can read about Frank here.

On behalf of the fallen, if you would like to see more people become aware of this project to honor the WW2 fallen, be sure to share with others on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thanks for your interest!

I created this video to explain why I started this project:

Follow on Twitter @ww2fallen100
Join the public Facebook group WW2 Fallen 100


  1. Rest in peace :another American hero who died fighting Japanese imperialism.

  2. Capt Lightsey was married to my mother,Janie Phillips of Cordele GA who later married my father William Wells also of Cordele. My dad was a Marine Aviator in the Pacific serving on Guam, Tinian, Saipan and Iowa Jim's earning 5 awards of DEC, Bronze Star and others. My mother still lives in Cordele at 94 years old and doing good. Our family has allways and continues to be a part of Capt Lightsey's fammily.
    Lee Wells