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Stories of Sacrifice

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World War II - U.S. Marine Corps Reserve

Joseph Jacob Foss

  • Rank: Captain (Highest Rank: Brigadier General)
  • Conflict/Era: World War II
  • Unit/Command:
    Marine Fighting Squadron 121, Marine Air Group 11,
    1st Marine Aircraft Wing
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Marine Corps Reserve
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: January 23, 1943
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: over Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands

For outstanding heroism and courage above and beyond the call of duty as executive officer of Marine Fighting Squadron 121, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, at Guadalcanal. Engaging in almost daily combat with the enemy from 9 October to 19 November 1942, Capt. Foss personally shot down 23 Japanese planes 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 15 January 1943, he added three more enemy planes to his already brilliant successes for a record of aerial combat achievement unsurpassed in this war. Boldly searching out an approaching enemy force on 25 January, Capt. 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.

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Additional Details
  • Accredited to: Sioux Falls, Minnehaha County, South Dakota
  • Awarded Posthumously: No
  • Presentation Date & Details: May 18, 1943

    The White House (Oval Office), presented by Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt

  • Born: April 17, 1915, Sioux Falls, Minnehaha County, SD, United States
  • Died: January 1, 2003, Scottsdale, AZ, United States
  • Buried: Arlington National Cemetery (MH) (7A-162), Arlington, VA, United States

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