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Captain Joe Foss Hand Signed Autographed Life Magazine June 7, 1943
Item #: VF2447
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Original autographed copy of TIME magazine June, 7th 1943 featuring Joe Foss. As with all my items, this item is guaranteed for life to be completely original including the autograph.

World War II flying ace

After being designated a Naval Aviator, Foss graduated at Pensacola, Florida and was commissioned as a second lieutenant, then served as a "plowback" instructor at Naval Air Station Pensacola. At 26 years of age, he was considered too old to be a fighter pilot, and was instead sent to the Navy School of Photography. Upon completion of his initial assignment, he was transferred to Marine Photographic Squadron 1 (VMO-1) stationed at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego, California. Dissatisfied with his role in photographic reconnaissance, Foss made repeated requests to be transferred to a fighter qualification program. 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. While stateside, Foss married his high school sweetheart, June Shakstad in 1942.

Guadalcanal

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. On October 9, Foss and his group were catapult launched off the USS Copahee escort carrier and flew 350 miles north to reach Guadalcanal. The air group, code named "Cactus", based at Henderson Field became known as the Cactus Air Force, and their presence played a pivotal role in the Battle of Guadalcanal. Foss soon gained a reputation for aggressive close-in fighter tactics and uncanny gunnery skills. Foss shot down a Japanese Mitsubishi Zero on his first combat mission on October 13, but his own F4F Wildcat was shot up as well, and with a dead engine and three more Zeros on his tail, he landed at full speed, with no flaps and minimal control on the American-held runway at Guadalcanal, barely missing a grove of palm trees.

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." Conditions in the jungle were extreme, and in December 1942, Foss was stricken with 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 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. 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.

Foss returned to the United States in March 1943. On May 18, 1943, Foss received the Medal of Honor from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The White House ceremony was featured in Life magazine, with the reluctant Captain Foss appearing on the magazine's cover. He then was asked to participate in a war bond tour that stretched into 1944.

Return to combat

In February 1944, Foss returned to the Pacific theater as the commanding officer of VMF-115, flying the F4U Corsair. VMF-115 was based in the combat zone around Emirau, St. Mathias Group in 1944. It was during this second tour that Foss met and became friends with fellow Marine fighter ace Marion Carl. He also had an opportunity to meet and fly with his boyhood idol, Charles Lindbergh, who was on assignment touring the South Pacific as an aviation consultant. After eight months of operational flying but no opportunities to increase his wartime score, Foss finished his combat service as one of America's top scoring pilots.

Foss again contracted malaria, and was sent home to the Klamath Falls Rehabilitation Center in Oregon. In February 1945, he became operations and training officer at the Marine Corps Air Station, Santa Barbara, California

Shipping Weight: 0.8 lb
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