A fellow's memories of Joe Foss
The Minot Daily News carries the recollections of businessman/photographer Mark Hamilton, including:
"Hamilton's love of the outdoors and enthusiasm for every task he undertakes has also led to developing friendships with some very notable personalities. Among them is one remarkable man that captured Hamilton's attention. He is Sioux Falls native Joe Foss, a Congressional Medal of Honor winner, former governor of South Dakota, former commissioner of the American Football League and one-time leader of the National Rifle Association.
"That man made the most indelible impression on me. He's the most interesting character I've ever been around," said Hamilton. "The first year he was here he had just come from Jimmy Doolittle's funeral. He marched alongside Doolittle's casket down Pennsylvania Avenue."
Foss and Hamilton spent time together, mostly duck hunting over prairie potholes. The rugged Foss shared many of his World War II experiences with Hamilton.
"He shot down 18 Japanese Zeroes and four Japanese bombers while serving with the Marine Air Corps at Guadalcanal," remarked Hamilton. "He was shot down four times himself. He told me stories about Pappy Boyington of the famous Flying Tigers, even when Boyington punched him hard and knocked him down outside Boyington's restaurant in California.""
UPDATES: from what I heard, the real count of enemy planes he downed was more like a hundred. To get a kill officially counted, someone had to confirm seeing it actually crash or something close to that (blow up in flames, etc.). The fact that in the witness's opinion the plane was going down was not enough. In a dogfight, of course, your buddies usually had better things to do than watch the plane you'd hit go all the way to the ground.
He told me that Hollywood contacted him, proposing to do a movie on him, and offering a huge sum, 75,000 or 100,000 -- considering military pay of the time, certainly more than he'd make in his entire military career. Then they showed him the script. He protested that it had him doing things that he'd never done, and a love interest with a nurse when the Corps permitted no women within hundreds of miles of Guadalcanal. The studio wouldn't budge and he turned down the money. The later added still more fiction and brought it out as "The Flying Leathernecks."
After he died, there was a letter to the editor in the NRA magazines. A lady had gotten a flat tire on the highway in the middle of nowhere. An older gent stopped, jacked up her car, put on the spare. She was happy, offered money, he declined. Then she said she'd like to write a letter of praise to his boss. He replied he didn't really have a boss. She said -- but you're driving a car with State government plates. How can you not have a boss?
She wrote the fellow looked a little embarrassed and replied, "I'm the governor, Joe Foss."