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First Name: John

Last Name: Fox

Birthplace: Cincinnati, OH, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Cincinnati, OH
Middle Name: Robert

Date of Birth: 18 May 1915

Date of Death: 26 December 1944

Rank: First Lieutenant

Years Served: 1940-1944
John Robert Fox

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


John Robert Fox
First Lieutenant, U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient
World War II

First Lieutenant John Robert Fox (18 May 1915 - 26 December 1944) was a U.S. Army officer who was posthumously awarded the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions during World War II.

John Robert Fox was born on 18 May 1915 in Cincinnati, OH. He attended Wilberforce University and graduated with an ROTC commission as a Second Lieutenant in 1940.

Military Service

The 92nd Infantry Division, known as the Buffalo Soldiers, was a segregated African-American division that fought in World War II. On 26 December 1944, First Lieutenant John R. Fox was serving as a member of Cannon Company, 366th Infantry Regiment, 92d Infantry Division. During the preceding few weeks, Lieutenant Fox had served with the 598th Field Artillery Battalion as a forward observer. On Christmas night, Fox was part of a small forward observer party that volunteered to stay behind in the Italian village of Sommocolonia, in the Serchio River Valley. During the night, enemy soldiers dressed in civilian clothes gradually infiltrated the village and, by early morning, the town was largely in hostile hands.

American forces had been forced to withdraw from the village after it had been overrun by the enemy. From his position on the second floor of a house, Fox directed defensive artillery fire. Greatly outnumbering the small group of American soldiers, the enemy was in the streets attacking in strength. Fox radioed in to have the artillery fire adjusted closer to his position; then he radioed again to have the shelling moved even closer. The soldier receiving the message was stunned, for that would bring the deadly fire right on top of Fox's position; there was no way he would survive. When Fox was told this, he replied, "Fire it." This shelling delayed the enemy advance until other units could reorganize to repel the attack.

His action permitted the U.S. forces that had been forced to withdraw, to organize a counterattack and regain control of the village. After the units had retaken the village, they found Fox's body along with the bodies of about one hundred enemy soldiers. For willingly sacrificing his life, Fox was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 1997. *

* Fox was 29 years old when he called artillery fire on his own position the day after Christmas in 1944. For that action he was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in 1982. However, in the early 1990s it was determined that some African-American soldiers were denied consideration for the Medal of Honor solely due to their race. After a review, in January 1997 seven African-American soldiers had their medals upgraded to the Medal of Honor; First Lieutenant Fox was one of the seven. More than fifty years after his death, Fox was finally awarded his well-deserved Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Cannon Company, 366th Infantry Regiment, 92nd Infantry Division.

Place and date: Near Sommocolonia, Italy, 26 December 1944.

Citation: For extraordinary heroism against an armed enemy in the vicinity of Sommocolonia, Italy on 26 December 1944, while serving as a member of Cannon Company, 366th Infantry Regiment, 92d Infantry Division. During the preceding few weeks, Lieutenant Fox served with the 598th Field Artillery Battalion as a forward observer. On Christmas night, enemy soldiers gradually infiltrated the town of Sommocolonia in civilian clothes, and by early morning the town was largely in hostile hands. Commencing with a heavy barrage of enemy artillery at 0400 hours on 26 December 1944, an organized attack by uniformed German units began. Being greatly outnumbered, most of the United States Infantry forces were forced to withdraw from the town, but Lieutenant Fox and some other members of his observer party voluntarily remained on the second floor of a house to direct defensive artillery fire. At 0800 hours, Lieutenant Fox reported that the Germans were in the streets and attacking in strength. He then called for defensive artillery fire to slow the enemy advance. As the Germans continued to press the attack towards the area that Lieutenant Fox occupied, he adjusted the artillery fire closer to his position. Finally he was warned that the next adjustment would bring the deadly artillery right on top of his position. After acknowledging the danger, Lieutenant Fox insisted that the last adjustment be fired as this was the only way to defeat the attacking soldiers. Later, when a counterattack retook the position from the Germans, Lieutenant Fox's body was found with the bodies of approximately 100 German soldiers. Lieutenant Fox's gallant and courageous actions, at the supreme sacrifice of his own life, contributed greatly to delaying the enemy advance until other infantry and artillery units could reorganize to repel the attack. His extraordinary valorous actions were in keeping with the most cherished traditions of military service, and reflect the utmost credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.

In a White House ceremony on 13 January 1997, First Lieutenant John Robert Fox's widow, the former Arlene Marrow of Brockton, MA, received his Medal of Honor from President Bill Clinton. On that day, Clinton also awarded the medal to six other previously neglected African-American World War II veterans, including Vernon Baker, who was the only one living to receive his Medal.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross
Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart


• After the war, the citizens of Sommocolonia, Italy, erected a monument to nine men who were killed during the artillery barrage: Eight Italian soldiers, and First Lieutenant John R. Fox, U.S. Army.

• In 2005, the toy company Hasbro introduced a 12-inch action figure "commemorating Lt. John R. Fox as part of its G.I. Joe Medal-of-Honor series."

Death and Burial

First Lieutenant John Robert Fox was killed in action on 26 December 1944. He is buried at Colebrook Cemetery in Whitman, MA.

Honoree ID: 1396   Created by: MHOH




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