Joe Foss

Knowledge Identifier: +Joe_Foss


Joe Foss

Leading fighter ace of the United States Marine Corps during World War II and a 1943 recipient of the Medal of Honor, recognizing his role in the air combat during the Guadalcanal Campaign add

Category: Military

Born in 1915.

Countries: United States (31%), South Dakota (25%), (19%)

Main connections: South Dakota, United States House of Representatives, Super Bowl

Linked to: Republican Party, National Rifle Association, Democratic Party, Easter Seals




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Joe Foss was born in 1915 add something


"'Joseph Jacob "Joe" Foss"' was the leading fighter ace of the United States Marine Corps during World War II and a 1943 recipient of the Medal of Honor, recognizing his role in the air combat during the Guadalcanal Campaign add something


In 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 add something


Foss served as a Private in the 147th Field Artillery, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, South Dakota National Guard from 1937 to 1940 add something


By 1940, armed with a pilot certificate and a degree in Business Administration, 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 add something


He checked out in Grumman F4F Wildcats while still assigned to VMO-1, logging over 150 flight hours in June and July, 1942, and was eventually transferred to Marine Fighting Squadron 121 VMF-121 as the executive officer add something


While stateside, Foss married his high school sweetheart, June Shakstad in 1942 add something


In October 1942, VMF-121 and its 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 their arrival in mid-August add something


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 add something


Conditions in the jungle were extreme, and in December 1942, Foss was stricken with malaria add something


On January 1, 1943, Foss returned to Guadalcanal and "his boys," to continue combat operations which lasted until February 9, 1943, although the Japanese attacks had waned from the height of the November 1942 crisis add something


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 add something


Foss returned to the United States in March 1943 add something


On May 18, 1943, Foss received the Medal of Honor from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt add something


He was asked to participate in a war bond tour that stretched into 1944 add something


VMF-115 was based in the combat zone around Emirau, St. Mathias Group in 1944 add something


In February 1944, Foss returned to the Pacific theater as the commanding officer of VMF-115, flying the F4U Corsair add something


In February 1945, he became operations and training officer at the Marine Corps Air Station, Santa Barbara, California add something


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, South Dakota, that eventually grew into a 35-aircraft operation add something


In October 1945, Foss was ordered to Iowa to appear at Navy Day ceremonies in four cities there and was finally relieved from active duty in December 1945 but was retained in the Marine Corps Reserve on inactive duty until 1947 add something


In 1946, Foss was appointed a lieutenant colonel in the South Dakota Air National Guard and instructed to form the South Dakota Air National Guard, becoming the commanding officer for the Guard's 175th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron add something


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 add something


"Brave Eagle", a 1955 postwar effort to film a story of Foss's life, starring his friend, John Wayne, fell through in 1956 when Foss refused to allow the producers to add a fictitious love story add something


In 1958, Foss unsuccessfully sought a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, having been defeated by the Democrat George McGovern in a year particularly discouraging to Republicans nationwide add something


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 add something


Drawing on a lifelong love of hunting and the outdoors, Foss hosted ABC television's "The American Sportsman" from 1964 to 1967, which took him all over the world for hunting and fishing excursions add something


He 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 add something


In 1972, he began a six-year stint as Director of Public Affairs for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines add something


Foss was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1984 add something


Starting in 1988, Foss was elected to two consecutive one-year terms as president of the National Rifle Association add something


Foss was inducted into the Naval Aviation Hall of Honor at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida, in 1994 add something


In 2000, Foss served as a consultant on the popular computer game "Combat Flight Simulator 2" by Microsoft add something


In 2001, Foss and his second wife, "Didi," founded The Joe Foss Institute, a 501 nonprofit organization that is still active today in promoting patriotism, public service, integrity and an appreciation for America's freedoms add something


On January 11, 2002, Foss, 86, was in the news when he was detained by security at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport add something


Foss suffered a severe stroke in October 2002 when he bled from a cerebral aneurysm add something


He died three months later on New Year's Day, 2003, never having regained consciousness add something

Joe Foss died in 2003 add something


Foss was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Section 7A, Lot 162 on January 21, 2003 add something


"American Ace: The Joe Foss Story" was an award-winning, hour-length television documentary, produced by the South Dakota Public Broadcasting, first aired in fall 2006 add something


"Aces High: The Heroic Saga of the Two Top-Scoring American Aces of World War II." New York: Berkley, 2009 add something


" New York: St. Martin's Press, 2010 add something


Through classroom presentations, curriculum and scholarships, the Joe Foss Institute has served more than 1,35 million children, as of June 2014, nationwide add something