Wed, Jan 01, 2003
Pilot/Medal of Honor Winner, "Flies
One of our own, one of the best, has passed on.
Air Force General (ret.) Joe Foss, 87, got a start in aviation
by paying for his own flying lessons (in part) by waiting tables.
At 27, he was considered "too old" to fly combat; but the second
lieutenant finagled 150 hours in Wildcats, and was soon given
Pacific Theater duty, where he ran up 26 kills, equaling Capt Eddie
Rickenbacker's WWI total.
In 1943, Franklin D. Roosevelt awarded him the Medal of Honor,
though a story earlier this year detailed how he almost had the medal stolen from
him by "security screeners" at Sky Harbor
International, in Phoenix (AZ), as he tried to board a flight to DC
on January 11.
He also earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and went on
to serve as a colonel in the Air Force in the Korean War.
Foss, a Republican, became the
Governor of South Dakota in 1955, elected after serving in the
state Legislature for five years. A truly accomplished man,
Foss's amazing life also included stints as the first
commissioner of the American Football League, the host
of The American Sportsman television
show, and served as president of the National Rifle
Association from 1988 through 1990.
Foss fell into a coma last fall after suffering
an aneurysm. He passed away without regaining consciousness in
an AZ hospital. Our prayers are with his family in this
difficult time and our respect for this uncommonly accomplished
aviator is inestimable.
He was an amazing man, a flyer... one of us.
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