Joseph Jacob Foss, Medal of Honor

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Joseph Jacob Foss, Medal of Honor

Also Known As: "Smokey Joe", "Old Joe", "Old Foos", "Ace of Aces"
Birthplace: East Sioux Falls, Minnehaha, South Dakota, USA
Death: Died in Scottsdale, Maricopa, Arizona, USA
Cause of death: aneurysm
Place of Burial: Arlington, Arlington, Virginia, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of Olaus (Frank) Jakobsen Foss and Mary Esther Foss
Husband of <private> Foss (Hall)
Ex-husband of June Foss
Brother of Clifford Walter Foss and Flora Foss

Occupation: United States Marine General, Governor of South Dakota 1955-1959, First Commissioner of the American Football League, President of the National Rifle Association, Television Broadcaster
Managed by: Linda Kathleen Thompson, (c)
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Joseph Jacob Foss, Medal of Honor

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Captain Joseph Jacob Foss (MCSN: 0-6774), United States Marine Corps Reserve, for extraordinary heroism and conspicuous courage in aerial combat above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Executive Officer and a Pilot of Marine Fighting Squadron ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-ONE (VMF-121), Marine Air Group FOURTEEN (MAG-14), FIRST Marine Aircraft Wing, at Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, during the period 9 October 1942 to 23 January 1943. Engaging in almost daily combat with the enemy from 9 October to 19 November 1942, Captain 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 1943, Captain Foss led his eight F-4F Marine planes and four Army P-38's 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.

Action Date: Oct 09 - Nov 19, 1942 and Jan 15 & 23, 1943

Service: Marine Corps

Rank: Captain

Company: Marine Fighting Squadron 121 (VMF-121)

Regiment: Marine Air Group 14 (MAG-14)

Division: 1st Marine Aircraft Wing

Joseph Jacob Foss


  • Apr. 17, 1915
  • East Sioux Falls
  • Minnehaha County
  • South Dakota, USA


  • Jan. 1, 2003
  • Scottsdale
  • Maricopa County
  • Arizona, USA

Interesting link:

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Joseph Jacob Foss, Medal of Honor's Timeline

April 17, 1915
East Sioux Falls, Minnehaha, South Dakota, USA
Age 14
Sioux Falls, Minnehaha, South Dakota, United States

Home in 1930: Sioux Falls, Minnehaha, South Dakota

August 9, 1942
Age 27
Age 43
Age 51
January 1, 2003
Age 87
Scottsdale, Maricopa, Arizona, USA
Arlington, Arlington, Virginia, USA