December 26 2017
“That last round was just where I wanted it,” John informing his close friend, Lt. Otis Zachary, the artillery operator on the other end of the radio. “Bring it in 60 yards more.”
Stunned, Zachary replayed John’s words in his head to confirm he heard the soldier correctly. John was Zachary’s oldest friend in the military, becoming very close during their training days in Massachusetts in 1942. They even traveled to Italy on the same transport. Giving such an order seemed unconscionable to Zachary.
If executed, the force of approximately 75 heavy caliber artillery guns would be focused directly on John’s location. Each shell alone would be enough to decimate the home he was hiding in. Such a barrage would be Armageddon. Convinced John was mistaken, he tried to clear up the confusion.
“John, that’s your position.”
“Fire it! There’s more of them than there is of us.”
Zachary protested the new coordinates until his colonel ordered him to fulfill John’s request. Fighting the lump in his throat, Zachary gave the order. “Converge, sheath.” Upon the command, artillery soldiers began directing their fire in a line, strategically guiding their strikes closer and closer to John’s hideout. Hundreds of shells rained down upon the house. Zachary, nor the rest of the world, ever heard John’s voice again.
John Robert Fox was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on May 18, 1915. World War I was already in progress in Europe, however, Democrat President Woodrow Wilson had kept America from the fighting so far. On the other hand, he was rather busy doing more destruction to the military and civil rights than any war could perpetrate.
During Reconstruction, Republicans made tremendous strides in desegregating government entities. Wilson, the first southern president since Reconstruction, a Democrat and a strong supporter of the Ku Klux Klan, reversed decades of advancement by resegregation the military. (see The Birth Of A Nation) Wilson set racial progress back decades, a trend Democrat President Franklin D. Roosevelt continued during World War II and African-American units would suffer from for decades. (see Like Father, Like Son)
Fox attended Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio. An historically black university, Wilberforce was stared by the African Methodist Episcopal Church, becoming the first college owned and operated by African Americans. Upon his graduation in 1940, John received an ROTC commission as a second lieutenant. Fox was assigned to the 92nd Infantry Division, the segregated African American division, also known as the Buffalo Soldiers, stared by John J. Pershing. (see The Forgotten General and A Tail Of Two Soldiers) Now a First Lieutenant, Fox was part of the 366th Infantry Regiment on that pivotal day.
There was no Christmas Truce in 1944 as in the evening of Christmas Day, plainly clothed soldiers from the German 14th Army began entering the town of Sommocolonia, Italy. (see If Only For A Moment) Six miles away, the American Fifth Army was available for reinforcements. Thanks to the progressive ideology of eugenics and the perfect race, the Nazi and American officials held the same, racist opinion, the 92nd Division was expendable as its black soldiers were sub-human. The Nazis were instructed not to take prisoners and the American unit refused to help in any way, including tending to their fellow wounded soldiers. Despite such bigoted views, Fox put country over self, realizing if he didn’t stop, or at least slow the Germans down, not only would his unit be in danger, so would the American Army. As a result, Fox ordered the artillery unit to send the devastating bombs directly onto his hiding place, the second story of a village home. Fox’s unselfish sacrifice to spare the lives of his men puts their bigoted viewpoints to shame.
Because of Wilson’s and Roosevelt’s narrow-mindedness, Fox’s actions, as well as those of hundreds of African American soldiers, remained forgotten by the army and the country for years. This injustice started to be corrected in 1982 when fellow 92nd member Major General James F. Hamlet posthumously awarded Fox the Distinguished Service Cross, which his widow accepted.
Several years later, realizing there were no African American Medal of Honor recipients from World War II, the Army requested a study "to determine if there was a racial disparity in the way Medal of Honor recipients were selected.” Results confirmed there was an imbalance in recipients, with a recommendation of 10 soldiers for the award. Since there is a time limitation on the presentation of the Medal of Honor, Congress passed special legislation in October of 1996 giving Democrat President Bill Clinton the authority to bestow the award to seven veterans. On January 13, 1997, Fox’s widow, along with other family members of fallen soldiers, received their loved ones Medal of Honor with one living hero, Vernon Baker, receiving his own.
John R. Fox’s Medal of Honor Citation reads as follows:
“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.”
Fox received several other recognitions beyond military awards. In 2005, Hasbro toys developed a Medal of Honor series for their G.I. Joe 12-inch action figures. Among those honored was John R. Fox. Following World War II, the citizens of Sommocolonia, Italy, paid tribute to eight Italian soldiers and Fox with a monument in their honor.
Liberty, it is said only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you... Jesus Christ and the American Soldier. One died for your soul, the other died for your freedom. Christ himself said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 While Christ was of course speaking of his pending crucifixion, his statement still rings true for soldiers.
Soldiers go into battle willing to die for liberty and freedom, but pray with all their heart they won’t have to. Furthermore, they never know when or where their sacrifice will happen if they are called upon to do so. On the other hand, Christ entered the world knowing his purpose was to lay down his life for all humanity at the cross. In fact, Paul tells us that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 So while Jews and Gentiles alike hated and persecuted Christ, he still went to the cross to take the punishment for all our sins. In similar fashion, Fox realized his death would not only spare the lives of his unit, but it would benefit an army that, at the time, considered him subhuman and expendable.
Liberty, none of us know for sure what we will do if placed in a situation such as Lt. Fox faced, but you must constantly prepare yourself to defend and sacrifice for your faith, your principles and in some cases, others. We pray and hope we have the courage and strength to do what Lt. Fox did, but we’ll never know for sure unless we’re there. Therefore, pray earnestly that hearts and minds will be opened to Christ’s sacrifice so that no one will ever have to find out again.
That’s my 2 cents.
THE GREATEST GIFT