Wednesday, November 28, 2012

TFH 11/28: HM3 Fred Townsend Foster, USN

A few days ago, I blogged about Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class William B. Barber, a Navy Cross recipient from the Vietnam War who showed incredible courage and devotion to duty while caring for wounded Marines.

Today's Their Finest Hour honoree is another Navy Corpsman who received the same award for his courage in the care and defense of wounded Marines during the Korean War. On November 28, 1950, Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Fred Townsend Foster was continually under communist attack as he cared for thirty wounded Marines during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir.

Unfortunately, little is known about this heroic sailor, besides the words of his Navy Cross citation.

From Military Times' Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Hospital Corpsman Third Class Fred Townsend Foster (NSN: 7919441), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United Nations while serving as a Hospital Corpsman with a Marine Infantry Company, 5th Marines, FIRST Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces in the vicinity of Yudam-ni, Korea, on 28 November 1950. When his platoon suffered five casualties while reinforcing a friendly unit subjected to a concerted enemy night attack, Hospital Corpsman Third Class Foster unhesitatingly proceeded to the aid of the wounded men and, braving intense hostile small-arms and grenade fire, personally evacuated all five from the heavily engaged front lines. Exercising outstanding initiative, he established a temporary aid station in a warm-out tent approximately fifty yards behind the lines, thereby providing protection for the wounded against the bitter sub-zero temperatures. When at one point the enemy succeeded in forcing a penetration of the friendly line and threatened to overrun his aid station, he quickly organized a defense perimeter, utilizing the less seriously wounded of the thirty casualties for whom he was then caring and, skillfully placing them to disrupt all enemy attempts to take the position, carried on with his treatment of the wounded. Returning periodically to insure the security of the perimeter, Foster found the men particularly hard-pressed on one occasion, and seizing a rifle in defense of the helpless wounded, killed three of the enemy. Although the hostile fire steadily increased in violence, riddling his tent and inflicting wounds on the casualties, he steadfastly refused to seek cover and moved continually about, giving aid and comfort to the wounded and tenaciously defending his post. When at daybreak the enemy attackers were repulsed, he immediately took charge of an evacuation detail and successfully removed all casualties to the battalion aid station approximately one mile distant. His heroic initiative, selfless determination and valiant devotion to duty in the face of heavy odds reflect the highest credit upon Foster and the United States Naval Service.

The Department of Veterans Affairs via their grave locator lists HM3 Fred T. Foster as having passed away on August 15, 1995. He rests in peace in Lower Burrell, Pennsylvania at the Greenwood Memorial Park.

To all men and women who have risked life and limb to care for their warrior comrades in battle - past, present, and future - we give our eternal thanks.

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