Fox, John Robert , born 18-05-1915, in Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, the eldest of three children. He was raised in Wyoming, Ohio, and attended Ohio State University. He transferred to Wilberforce University, participating in ROTC under Captain Aaron R. “Cap” Fisher, a highly decorated World War I veteran. Fox graduated with a degree in engineering and received a commission as a U.S. Army second lieutenant in 1941. Aaron R. “Cap” Fisher died 22-11-1985, age 90, in Xenia, Ohio
Fox was 29 years old when he called artillery fire on his own position the day after Christmas in 1944. In 1982, he was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) for his heroic actions that day. More than 50 years after his death, Fox’s DSC was upgraded to the Medal of Honor.
The 92nd Infantry Division ) , known as the Buffalo Soldiers, under command of Lieutenant General Edward Mallory “Ned” Almond, was a segregated African-American division that fought in World War II. Lieutenant. Fox was a forward observer of the 598th Artillery Battalion, supporting the 366th Infantry Regiment of the division, when he sacrificed his life to defeat an enemy attack and save the lives of fellow American soldiers. On 26-12-1944, age 29, 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. American forces had been forced to withdraw from the village after it had been overrun by the Germans. From his position on the second floor of a house, Fox directed defensive artillery fire. Wehrmacht soldiers were attacking in strength, greatly outnumbering the handful of Americans. Fox radioed the artillery to bring its fire closer to his position. As the attack continued, he ordered the fire directed onto his own position. The soldier who received the message was stunned, as there was little chance that Fox would survive it. Fox simply replied, “Fire it.” Fox’s sacrifice gained time for the U.S. forces to organize a counterattack and retake the village. He was posthumously awarded the DSC on 15-04-1982; the initial award recommendation was lost.
In the early 1990s, it was determined that Black soldiers had been denied consideration for the Medal of Honor (MOH) in World War II because of their race. In 1993, the U.S. Army had contracted Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, to research and determine if there was racial disparity in the review process for recipients of the MOH. The study commissioned by the U.S. Army, described systematic racial discrimination in the criteria for awarding decorations during World War II. After an exhaustive review of files, the study recommended in 1996 that ten Black Americans who served in World War II be awarded the MOH. In October of that year, Congress passed legislation that would allow President Clinton to award the Medal of Honor to these former soldiers. Seven of the ten including Lieutenant. Fox were approved, and awarded the MOH (six had Distinguished Service Crosses revoked and upgraded to MOH) on 12-01-1997. On 13-01-1997, President Clinton presented the MOH to the seven Black Americans; Lieutenant Fox and five others were posthumously presented the MOH. Lieutenant. Fox’s widow accepted the MOH on his behalf during the ceremony. Vernon Baker
was the only living recipient of the medal at the time. Baker died at his St. Maries, Idaho, home on 13-07-2010, age 90, after a long battle with cancer.
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 Lieutenant Fox.
Fox, John Robert is buried in Colebrook Cemetery in Whitman, Massachusetts.