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JOE FOSS EXHIBIT


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I had occasion to visit the Marine Corps aviation museum at the Mirimar Marine Base, San Diego, CA over the Labor Day weekend. On display was an exhibit honoring WWII Marine ace Joe Foss. Here are some photos I took of the items (all are through glass so there is some reflection):

 

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And then, this:

 

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I asked the docent, a retired Marine aviator, if there was any way to photograph the reverse and he said "No." I then asked if this was Foss's original MoH as presented to him by FDR. The docent said that the Joe Foss Foundation, which loaned the exhibit, said it was.

 

This is a photo I have taken 20 some years ago of the engraving on the reverse of Foss's MoH:

 

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Obviously, there's a difference in finish of the two pieces. The second photo is of the original piece awarded by FDR. The darker finish is consistent with other Navy MoHs of the period. The one on display is obviously a more "gilted" piece of more recent vintage. Any engraving on the reverse remains a mystery.

 

Where Foss's "original" MoH is is anyone's guess. I might track down the Joe Foss Foundation and inquire.

 

Regardless, if you are in San Diego, this is a good museum with lots of great aircraft on display, as well as other interesting USMC aviation items, including tributes to other WWII MoH aces and some Navy Cross recipients.

 

 

 

 

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BTW, here's a photo I snapped of four aces in 1991 at a Fighter Aces Association convention in Phoenix, AZ:

 

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Galer, Walsh, McCampbell, Foss

 

There'll never be another group of aviators like this! Sad to see them all gone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nice photos...

 

That is the original MOH given to Joe Foss by FDR in that display. He also has a wearing copy from the early 1950s which is also engraved (may be the one in your photo). The family has his wearing copy.

 

Joe had the original MOH gold plated.

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thanks for the info. Very possible the original was gold-plated. I guess only the family would know for 100%. I saw him several times over the years and he always had the "wearing" MoH around his neck.

 

The layout of the display at Mirimar was set up differently than what you photographed. Dont' know where your photo was taken. For Example, Foss's other medals were in a frame, as I pictured, along with his minis, not laid out on a glass display shelf. And I don't remember the passport and books. Perhaps the Joe Foss Foundation has several traveling exhibits. I believe the docent told me the one at Mirimar was leaving in a few more months.

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thanks for the info. Very possible the original was gold-plated. I guess only the family would know for 100%. I saw him several times over the years and he always had the "wearing" MoH around his neck.

 

The layout of the display at Mirimar was set up differently than what you photographed. Dont' know where your photo was taken. For Example, Foss's other medals were in a frame, as I pictured, along with his minis, not laid out on a glass display shelf. And I don't remember the passport and books. Perhaps the Joe Foss Foundation has several traveling exhibits. I believe the docent told me the one at Mirimar was leaving in a few more months.

 

It is my display ... they better not have taking anything out of it.

 

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thanks for the info. Very possible the original was gold-plated. I guess only the family would know for 100%. I saw him several times over the years and he always had the "wearing" MoH around his neck.

 

I've had the privilege of holding the gold plated one and it's 100% his original Medal of Honor.

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So, ajbUSWM and Dave, one of you must have a photo of the engraving on the reverse of the gold-plated MoH. If so, please post. It would be most interesting.

 

ajbUSWM, so you own all of Foss's items? The docent told me it was the Joe Foss Foundation's traveling exhibit. He didn't know much beyond that. Very interesting. I really have no idea who's in charge of this, but it is obvious that the display at Mirimar is not set up the same as the one you photographed.

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So, ajbUSWM and Dave, one of you must have a photo of the engraving on the reverse of the gold-plated MoH. If so, please post. It would be most interesting.

 

ajbUSWM, so you own all of Foss's items? The docent told me it was the Joe Foss Foundation's traveling exhibit. He didn't know much beyond that. Very interesting. I really have no idea who's in charge of this, but it is obvious that the display at Mirimar is not set up the same as the one you photographed.

 

I'm the executor of the Joe Foss estate (Military related items). As a friend of the family, Joe's wife Didi Foss instructed me to take the Joe Foss items and exhibit them throughout the country. The Miramar exhibit is the first of five planned exhibits over the next five years.

 

That Medal of Honor was handed to me directly from the family safe and then personally placed in that exhibit. Dave inspected the medal before it went on display. Prior to this exhibit, his 1943 Medal of Honor was displayed at the NRA museum in Washington D.C. I believe this is only the second time the medal has been on public display.

 

After the five years of nationwide exhibits, I will select a final resting place, after consulting with the Foss family, for the entire Joe Foss collection (medals, diary, logs, trunks, maps, papers, etc.). I volunteer my time and money to preserve and restore this collection as a service to the Foss family and to the memory of Joe Foss. For example, the display case and background were paid for by me at an expense of over $7,500. I also made one Joe Foss video and I am working on a second Joe Foss video and book.

 

None of the items will be sold.

 

Future exhibits will be larger and include a wider range of items and artifacts. The goal is to teach the world about this amazing man and his contributions to this country. He started out as a young boy living on a farm without electricity, lost his father, had to drop out of school, and went on to achieve great things for America despite his humble beginnings. He is the quintessential American success story.

 

Every American should learn about Joe Foss.

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The significance of the display at Mirimar was to coincide with the renaming of the airfield to "Joe Foss Field" which was authorized by Washington D.C. just before the exhibit was installed. The plaque you show in your first post highlights that event.

 

There was a ceremony, speeches, and a ribbon cutting to celebrate the Joe Foss Field dedication and the first stop for the Joe Foss national exhibit.

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Ironically the National Museum of the Marine Corps at Quantico has not returned any emails over the past two years about displaying the Joe Foss collection at their museum. They do not seem to be interested. So they are currently not on the rotation of exhibits.

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Ironically the National Museum of the Marine Corps at Quantico has not returned any emails over the past two years about displaying the Joe Foss collection at their museum. They do not seem to be interested. So they are currently not on the rotation of exhibits.

 

They might not accept loans. I know the USAF Museum system doesn't. You have to donate the items and sign them away. It is a prudent move in the end. Nothing goes missing that the museum has to deal with afterwards. Then again, common courtesy would dictate that they respond to emails!

 

-Ski

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They might not accept loans. I know the USAF Museum system doesn't. You have to donate the items and sign them away. It is a prudent move in the end. Nothing goes missing that the museum has to deal with afterwards. Then again, common courtesy would dictate that they respond to emails!

 

-Ski

 

Makes sense but they sort of take themselves out of the running for the final destination for the collection since it will likely to be donated to one of the five museums who showcased the artifacts during the national tour.

 

But I understand... good point. They could have responded also.. that would have been nice. Having been there twice the National Marine Corps Museum does have unbelievably rare items but this is a rather significant historical collection.

 

Thanks!

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ajbUSWM - congratulations on your efforts to highlight the exploits of this great man. Veterans like Foss need to be remembered because they are the ones who protected our freedom by their personal efforts. I consider myself fortunate enough to have met Joe Foss and shaken his hand a number of times before he passed. This was usually at air shows and book signings he was holding. He was always a gracious man.

 

I have a friend who is a retired BG with the SD Air NG. He loves to tell the story of flying Foss around the state as a young lieutenant. Man, that made him nervous he says!

 

If you do have a photo of the engraving on the reverse of the gold-plated medal, posting it here would sure enhance the body of knowledge that has accumulated on this topic. I look forward to seeing it. Dave probably has one, too.

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  • 5 months later...

Just curious, do you know what happened to the original MoH ribbon? Obviously, the one he got in WW2 was a small pad version. The large pad seen here came about post 1964. Excellent display!!!

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Just curious, do you know what happened to the original MoH ribbon? Obviously, the one he got in WW2 was a small pad version. The large pad seen here came about post 1964. Excellent display!!!

 

I think the original ribbon was sold in error during the Scottsdale Auction. The one on display was as found in Didi/Joe's safe by the son before the display.

 

The display will be moving to a new location soon... will update the forum for those who want to see it.

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Interesting, anywhere in the Midwest? Near his hometown of Sioux Falls?

 

Thanks,

 

Kurt

 

The exhibit will be in Sioux Falls...and will be as soon as possible. It will also be the complete display in South Dakota with his Guadalcanal trunks, alll maps, papers, letters, .. everything. We are also adding a touch-screen document review so you can read his letters home ... diary ... logs... scroll through all of his paper artifacts. The Sioux Falls display will be twice as big as the current display.

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Kurt Barickman

Wow, that will be very interesting to me and please post here so that I can go and see the exhibit. He was a neighbor to my aunt and uncle in Sioux Falls and I believe they played cards together. Thanks for your efforts,

 

Kurt

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I think the original ribbon was sold in error during the Scottsdale Auction. The one on display was as found in Didi/Joe's safe by the son before the display.

 

The display will be moving to a new location soon... will update the forum for those who want to see it.

Thanks for the clarification. I look forward to the new display, I am sure it will be really great!

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I think I mentioned previously that the family has Joe Foss's wearing copy (which is also engraved) on display and it seems to have an older ribbon than the original WWII MOH although neither date to WWII. They preferred to showcase the MOH Joe Foss wore daily for decades and leave the 1944 original for the national museum tour.

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Makes sense but they sort of take themselves out of the running for the final destination for the collection since it will likely to be donated to one of the five museums who showcased the artifacts during the national tour.

 

But I understand... good point. They could have responded also.. that would have been nice. Having been there twice the National Marine Corps Museum does have unbelievably rare items but this is a rather significant historical collection.

 

Thanks!

NMMC has more stuff than they could ever possibly display. The fact that Smedley Butler's blues are in storage tells you the quality and extent of their collection. They have numerous MOH not on display. Donations pour in to their collection, after all, what Marine family doesn't want their family legacy in there? Our concept of phenomenally significant is miniscule compared to theirs.

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