The ‘Ace of Aces’ continues to influence 1st MAW Marines to be Skilled, Smart, Strong warriors

by Cpl. Andy Martinez
1st Marine Aircraft Wing

The Marine Corps Aviation Association, Joe Foss Squadron, hosted the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing Gong Show and Joe Foss Membership Drive at the Habu Pit on Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, Feb. 2, 2018.

The Joe Foss Squadron, named after Joseph J. Foss, is one of 25 squadrons within the MCAA and the only squadron stationed overseas.

According to Col. Thomas C. Euler, 1st MAW’s assistant wing commander and the Joe Foss Squadron commanding officer, the purpose of the Joe Foss Squadron is to honor all those who’ve served or are serving in Marine Corps aviation. The squadron also strives to foster and encourage interest in Marine Corps aviation, especially with the younger Marines.

During World War II, Foss was made executive officer of Marine Fighting Squadron 121 (VMF-121) and first saw combat in the skies of Guadalcanal. Over three months of continuous combat, Foss and his Marines shot down a total of 72 Japanese aircraft. Twenty-six of those credited to Foss, known as the ‘Ace of Aces’. For his efforts during the Guadalcanal Campaign, Foss was presented the Medal of Honor, by former President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

“Foss’ ability to punish the enemy during a very difficult fight in the Pacific theater is an inspiration to all who know his story,” said Euler. “He remained ‘fight tonight’ ready when repeatedly called upon to fly against a numerically superior force. He personifies all the best qualities of a skilled, smart and strong warrior."

As a force in readiness, 1st MAW stands ready to strike at a moment’s notice, seize the initiative, fly assault and support missions regardless of time or weather and is ready to control the skies in every clime and place.

Events like this are here to build camaraderie among Marine Corps aviation enthusiasts and raise funds for a cause.

“Most of the funds earned go towards hosting our annual MCAA awards banquet, where 1st MAW leadership and Joe Foss Squadron members recognize our 1st MAW nominees in front of their families, friends and squadron mates,” said U.S. Marine Corps Col. Phil VanEtten (Ret.), the executive officer of Joe Foss Squadron. “We want to recognize and reward meritorious and professional achievements in Marines for their performance to the mission and tasks of Marine Corps aviation.”

Joe Foss Squadron hopes to continue hosting membership drives such as these to cultivate more passion for Marine Corps aviation in Okinawa and mainland Japan.

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