On Nov. 29, 1944, Lester Branch Hatcher Jr. burst onto the scene in Orange, Texas — an unexpected gift to his parents, Lester Sr. and Lucille, and to his 13-year-old sister Bettyeann, who thought she’d be an only child. Les grew up in Orange, helping out at his dad’s paint and body shop when he wasn’t cruising in his ’48 Chevy with buddies, checking out girls. He attended Stark High School, earned his Eagle Scout rank, played guard for the Orange Tigers football team and graduated in 1962. Les never had a doubt about where he would attend college. He was an Aggie to the Corps.

At Texas A&M, Fate smiled on Les when he was assigned to Army Company B-2, the Buzzards, along with 40 other fish, some of whom would become his lifelong friends.

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