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First Name: William

Last Name: Foster

Birthplace: Garfield Heights, OH, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: Adlebert

Date of Birth: 17 February 1917

Date of Death: 02 May 1945

Rank: Private First Class

Years Served: (6 years Ohio National Guard), 1944-1945 (USMC)
William Adlebert Foster

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


William Adlebert Foster
Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps
Medal of Honor Recipient
World War II

Private First Class William Adlebert Foster (17 February 1917 - 2 May 1945) was a U.S. Marine who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in World War II during the Battle of Okinawa.

William Adlebert Foster was born on 17 February 1917 in Garfield Heights, OH. Following graduation from vocational high school, where he majored in machinist's subjects, he was employed as a planer and shaper at Cleveland's Star Machine and Tool Company. A veteran of six years' service in the Ohio National Guard, Foster was enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve through the Selective Service System on 1 April 1944.

Foster received his basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, CA. In late September 1944, after intensive combat training at Camp Pendleton, he embarked for overseas duty on board the USS General C. G. Morton bound for the Russell Islands in the Solomon group. There he joined his regular unit - Company K, 3rd Battalion 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division.

He landed with his unit during the Battle of Okinawa on Easter Sunday, 1 April 1945, the first anniversary of his enlistment in the Marine Corps. In combat for the first time at Okinawa, PFC Foster performed an act of heroism on 2 May 1945 for which he was posthumously awarded the Nation's highest military award for valor, the Medal of Honor.

Dug in with another Marine, he and his comrade engaged in a fierce hand grenade duel with infiltrating enemy soldiers. When a Japanese grenade landed beyond reach in their foxhole, Private First Class Foster, with complete disregard for his personal safety, dove on it and absorbed its full explosion with his own body, thus protecting the other Marine from serious injury. Miraculously, he survived the explosion. Mortally wounded, he handed his two remaining grenades to his comrade and said, "Make them count…" then was brought to medical care where he died of his injuries.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.

Place and date: Okinawa Shima, Ryukyu Islands, 2 May 1945.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a rifleman with the 3d Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Okinawa Shima in the Ryukyu Chain 2 May 1945. Dug in with another marine on the point of the perimeter defense after waging a furious assault against a strongly fortified Japanese position, Pfc. Foster and his comrade engaged in a fierce hand grenade duel with infiltrating enemy soldiers. Suddenly an enemy grenade landed beyond reach in the foxhole. Instantly diving on the deadly missile, Pfc. Foster absorbed the exploding charge in his own body, thereby protecting the other marine from serious injury. Although mortally wounded as a result of his heroic action, he quickly rallied, handed his own remaining 2 grenades to his comrade and said, "Make them count." Stouthearted and indomitable, he had unhesitatingly relinquished his own chance of survival that his fellow marine might carry on the relentless fight against a fanatic enemy, and his dauntless determination, cool decision and valiant spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of certain death reflect the highest credit upon Pfc. Foster and upon the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.

On 19 August 1946, Gen Alexander A. Vandegrift, then Commandant of the Marine Corps, presented the Medal of Honor to Foster's parents in a ceremony at the City Hall in Cleveland.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Purple Heart
Navy Presidential Unit Citation w/ 1 Service Star
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/ 1 Service Star
World War II Victory Medal


Camp Foster, part of the Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler complex on Okinawa, is named for Foster.

• In 1957, William Foster Elementary opened in his hometown of Garfield Heights. It publicly educates grades K-3.

Death and Burial

Private First Class William Adlebert Foster was killed in action on 2 May 1945. Although Foster was initially interred at the 1st Marine Division cemetery on Okinawa, on 5 March 1949 his remains were re-interred at the Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland, OH, in Section 110.

Honoree ID: 1393   Created by: MHOH




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