Friday, December 05, 2008

ENS Rodney Foss Remembered

While doing the research for the Pearl Harbor exhibit, "This is War" in 2006, we discovered that two of the Arkansans that had been killed during the Pearl Harbor attack later had ships named after them.

However, we couldn't find much information beyond their names and a minimal amount of biographical information.

Thanks to Sheila Lampkin with the Drew County Historical Museum, we now have a picture and more information about one of these men, Ensign Rodney Shelton Foss.

Ensign Foss was born in Monticello, AR on 17 August, 1919 to George R. and Linnie Shelton Foss. He was born at the home of his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. R. W. Shelton, on Main Street between the railroad tracks and the Drew County Courthouse. (This site is now occupied by a park and other buildings).

Soon thereafter, the family moved to Pine Bluff, AR, where Rodney's father was a sales representative for the Parke-Davis Drug Co. Rodney did return to Monticello during his youth to visit relatives. At least one close cousin remembers him fondly.

Rodney graduated from Pine Bluff High School, then attended the University of Arkansas and Louisana State University before deciding to enter the military. Rodney enlisted in the U.S. Navy on 05 September, 1940 and received training at Northwester University in Chicago, IL before being commissioned as an Ensign.

On the morning of 07 December, 1941, Ensign Foss was trying to help get planes out of their hangers at Kaneohe Bay Naval Air Station when he was killed by machinegun fire from an attacking Japanese airplane.

Ensign Foss' body was returned to Monticello and he is interred in Oakland Cemetary.

Ensign Foss was posthumously awarded a Commendation, a Pacific Fleet medal, and a Purple Heart.

USS Foss (DE-59) was named in his honor and was christened by his mother on 13 April, 1943 at the shipyards in Birmingham, MA. A younger brother, Charles Foss, of Baton Rouge, LA remembers the trip north for the christening very well.

USS Foss was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet and served in support of the Normandy invasion during World War II. She later served during the Korean War, earing a battle star and served off Cape Canaveral, FL during rocket tests.


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