Victoria_Cross_of_canada

THE

 

TO THE VICTORIA & GEORGE CROSS

COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE

victoria_cross george cross scan0004

b. 17/04/1915 Sioux Falls, South Dakota. d. 01/01/2003 Scottsdale, Arizona.

 

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 09/10/1942 to 19/11/1942 Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.

 

Foss was born in an unelectrified farmhouse near Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the oldest son of Mary Esther (Lacey) and Frank Ole Foss. He was of Norwegian and Scottish descent. At age 12, he visited an airfield in Renner to see Charles Lindbergh on tour with his aircraft, the Spirit of St. Louis. Four years later, he and his father paid $1.50 apiece to take their first aircraft ride in a Ford Trimotor at Black Hills Airport with a famed South Dakota aviator, Clyde Ice.

 

In March 1933, while coming back from the fields during a storm, his father died when he drove over a downed electrical cable and was electrocuted as he stepped out of his automobile. Young Foss, not yet 18 years old, pitched in with his mother and brother Cliff to continue running the family farm.

 

He graduated from the University of South Dakota in 1939 with a degree in business administration. While at USD, Foss and other like-minded students convinced authorities to set up a CAA flying course at the university; he built up 100 flight hours by graduation. Foss paid his way through university by "bussing" tables. He joined the Sigma chapter of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and excelled at sports in USD, fighting on the college boxing team, participating as a member of the track team and as a second-string guard on the football team. Foss served as a Private in the 147th Field Artillery, Sioux Falls, South Dakota National Guard from 1937 to 1940. By 1940, armed with a pilot certificate and a college degree, Foss hitchhiked to Minneapolis to enlist in the Marine Corps Reserves, in order to join the Naval Aviation Cadet program to become a Naval Aviator.

 

In October 1942, VMF-121 pilots and aircraft were sent to Guadalcanal as part of Operation Watchtower to relieve VMF-223, which had been fighting for control of the air over the island since mid-August. On October 9, Foss and his group were catapult launched off the USS Copahee escort carrier and flew 350 miles north to reach Guadalcanal.

 

MOH CITATION:

 

For outstanding heroism and courage above and beyond the call of duty as Executive Officer of a Marine Fighting Squadron, at Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. Engaging in almost daily combat with the enemy from October 9 to November 19, 1942, Captain Foss personally shot down 23 Japanese aircraft and damaged others so severely that their destruction was extremely probable. In addition, during this period, he successfully led a large number of escort missions, skillfully covering reconnaissance, bombing and photographic planes as well as surface craft. On January 15, 1943, he added three more enemy aircraft to his already brilliant successes for a record of aerial combat achievement unsurpassed in this war. Boldly searching out an approaching enemy force on January 25, Captain Foss led his eight F4F Marine planes and four Army P-38s into action and, undaunted by tremendously superior numbers, intercepted and struck with such force that four Japanese fighters were shot down and the bombers were turned back without releasing a single bomb. His remarkable flying skill, inspiring leadership and indomitable fighting spirit were distinctive factors in the defense of strategic American positions on Guadalcanal.

 

As lead pilot in his flight of eight Wildcats, the group soon became known as Foss's Flying Circus, with two sections Foss nicknamed "Farm Boys" and "City Slickers." In December 1942, Foss contracted malaria. He was sent to Sydney, Australia for rehabilitation, where he met Australian ace Clive "Killer" Caldwell and delivered some lectures on operational flying to RAF pilots, newly assigned to the theater. On January 1, 1943, Foss returned to Guadalcanal, to continue combat operations which lasted until February 9, 1943, although the Japanese attacks had waned from the height of the November 1942 crisis. In three months of sustained combat, Foss's Flying Circus had shot down 72 Japanese aircraft, including 26 credited to him. Upon matching the record of 26 kills held by America's top World War I ace, Eddie Rickenbacker, Foss was accorded the honor of becoming America's first "ace-of-aces" in World War II.

 

In August 1945, Foss was released to inactive duty and opened Joe Foss Flying Service, charter flying service and flight instruction school in Sioux Falls, that eventually grew into a 35-aircraft operation. With a friend, Duane "Duke" Corning, he later owned a Packard car dealership in the town.

 

Campaigning from the cockpit of a light aircraft, Foss served two elected terms as a Republican representative in the South Dakota legislature and, beginning in 1955, at age 39, as the state's youngest governor. During his tenure as governor, he accompanied Tom Brokaw, then a high school student and Governor of South Dakota American Legion Boys State, to New York City for a joint appearance on "Two for the Money," a television game show, which featured Foss because of his wartime celebrity. In 1958, Foss unsuccessfully sought a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, having been defeated by another wartime pilot hero, the Democrat George McGovern. Foss tried to re-enter politics in 1962 in a campaign to succeed Sen. Francis Case, who died in office. Foss and several other contenders lost to Joseph H. Bottum, who filled out Case's term.

 

After serving as governor, Foss spent a short time working for Raven Industries before becoming the first Commissioner of the newly created American Football League in 1959. He oversaw the emergence of the league as the genesis of modern professional football. During the next seven years, Foss helped expand the league and made lucrative television deals, including a five-year, $10.6 million contract with ABC in 1960 to broadcast AFL games. He then stepped aside as commissioner in 1966, two months before the historic agreement that led to the merger of AFL and NFL and the creation of the Super Bowl.

 

Starting in 1988, Foss was elected to two consecutive one-year terms as president of the National Rifle Association. In his later years he maintained a rigorous speaking schedule and spoke out for conservative causes on what he considered a weakening of gun owners' rights. He was portrayed on the cover of the 29 January issue of Time Magazine wearing his trademark Stetson hat and holding a revolver.

 

MOH CITATION:

 

For outstanding heroism and courage above and beyond the call of duty as Executive Officer of a Marine Fighting Squadron, at Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. Engaging in almost daily combat with the enemy from October 9 to November 19, 1942, Captain Foss personally shot down 23 Japanese aircraft and damaged others so severely that their destruction was extremely probable. In addition, during this period, he successfully led a large number of escort missions, skillfully covering reconnaissance, bombing and photographic planes as well as surface craft. On January 15, 1943, he added three more enemy aircraft to his already brilliant successes for a record of aerial combat achievement unsurpassed in this war. Boldly searching out an approaching enemy force on January 25, Captain Foss led his eight F4F Marine planes and four Army P-38s into action and, undaunted by tremendously superior numbers, intercepted and struck with such force that four Japanese fighters were shot down and the bombers were turned back without releasing a single bomb. His remarkable flying skill, inspiring leadership and indomitable fighting spirit were distinctive factors in the defense of strategic American positions on Guadalcanal.

 

BURIAL LOCATION: ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA.

Section 7A, Lot 162

 

 

Joseph Jacob "Joe" Foss

FOSS JJ 6

"Smokey Joe", "Old Joe", "Old Foos", "Ace of Aces"

FOSS JJ 3 FOSS JJ FOSS JJ 2 FOSS JJ 5 FOSS JJ 4 FOSS JJ GRAVE