NO. 17480 • 26 April 1928 – 26 April 1951
Killed in Action April 26, 1951 in Korea, aged 23 Years.
THOMAS WESLEY BOYDSTON was born April 26, 1928 at Marquette, Kansas. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Ray T. Boydston and moved with his family to McPherson, Kansas at the age of six. He received his elementary education in the McPherson Public Schools, graduating from McPherson High School in May 1946. He received his appointment to West Point in July of that year.
McPherson was proud that July morning when word went around that he had received his appointment. The discussion on Main Street was not of the wheat which was being harvested, but of the honor Tom had brought to his town and himself in receiving the appointment to the United States Military Academy. That evening the local paper carried a front page story of the event. Just four months before, Tom, as captain of his high school basketball team, had led that team to the finals of the State Tournament, where, with practically the entire town witnessing or listening by radio, his team lost by only one point in an overtime game.
As a boy in high school, Tom was everything a parent might dream his boy would be. In Junior High he received the American Legion Honor Award as the outstanding student. In Senior High he earned letters each year in football and basketball, and yet found time to devote to his studies so that he graduated us Valedictorian of his class. In his senior year his classmates elected him "Prince Charming", during the biggest event in the local community, the annual May Day celebration.
In his younger days Scouting was one of Tom's first loves. His Scoutmaster writes: "Tom entered into his scouting in a way that gave the leader a wealth of compensation for his service. He especially enjoyed "the full fellowship and comradeship that a boy finds in a good troop. Tom was the troop's first song leader, and I clearly recall the joy he had in singing the songs learned in camp, always wearing that infectious grin that we cannot, nor ever will forget. On October 4th, 1944, Tom was awarded the Eagle Badge by his wonderful mother who was ever his inspiration. Among his classmates, friends and townspeople it was the unanimous opinion that Eagle Scout Tom Boydston typified the ideal in American boyhood. Tall, handsome, and friendly, with all of the fine qualities in the out-of-doors or on the Athletic Field. He lived a clean, Christian life".
Concerning his life at West Point, Colonel John K. Waters, Commandant of Cadets, wrote Tom's parents: "Tom demonstrated from the early days of his plebe year, 1946 - 47, his ability to be outstanding among the select group of young cadets who were his contemporaries. He was neat and soldierly appearing; he was capable in practical matters such as drill, physical education and administration; he was well equipped intellectually for the academic work; and he was of good moral fiber and character to base a career as a military leader. Tom's approach to cadet life was balanced and mature.He was serious about his studies and he took an active interest in athletics and other extra-curricular activities. His graduation standing of 134 out of 670 speaks well for his academic and military efforts. In sports he won the Academy athletic monogram playing soccer in his third class year. He was an outstanding forward on the Army Basketball team, earning a monogram his third class year and a major "A" award in his second and first class year".
John Mauer, Tom's basketball coach, a man Tom greatly admired, wrote: "In my twenty-five years that I have coached, I have never had a boy who did as much to improve himself or work harder than Tom did while playing for me. He had every characteristic that a coach wants in a boy along with fine morale and warm spirit".
After graduation from West Point, Tom reported to Fort Riley on August 1, 1950 for his first assignment - the 91st Reconnaissance Squadron - where he was stationed until he received his overseas orders. He reported to Fort Lawton, Wash. on October 11th and was flown to Japan on the l4th, arriving in Korea in the latter part of October. Almost immediately he was at the front line, serving for a few weeks in an Infantry Division until he received his permanent assignment with Company A of the 70th Tank Battalion. He was promoted to First Lieutenant early in January 1951. On April 26th, 1951 - just one day after Tom had passed his twenty-third birthday, he was killed in action.
Captain O'Neal, Tom's immediate superior, wrote to his parents: "Tom's death was a blow to all of us here. He was a friend and ideal to the men of his platoon. They would, and have, followed him any place. Tom was one of the most promising young officers I have met in fourteen years of Army service. I have two sons and I hope they will be as good men and soldiers as your son. . . I can tell you a little of the action when Tom was killed. Our company, with the Infantry Regiment we are attached to, was ordered to Kapyong to plug a gap in the lines made by the Chinese in their spring push. On this particular day we had pushed several miles out in front of the Infantry, shooting up the enemy rear areas. We were moving up a valley, tank platoon leading, when we came under fire from about three hundred Chinese at close range. Tom's tank was hit by several bazooka rounds and a fragment hit him in the back of the head, killing him instantly. We withdrew shortly afterward and Tom's body was turned over to the Medics".
The news of Tom's death came as a terrible shock to his family and friends. He leaves his father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Ray T. Boydston of McPherson, Kansas, and his sister, Mrs. E. B. Sundahl with her husband and two small sons, Thomas and Kevin. We are grateful for the privilege of having known such a fine personality. We know that we are better for having had his fellowship. I sincerely believe he met the ideal of the poet who wrote:
"Four things a man must learn to do if he would make his record true:
To think without confusion clearly;
To love his fellow men sincerely;
To act from honest motives purely;
To trust in God and Heaven securely."
- Rice Brown, Jr.