On December 26, 1944, Axis powers broke into Sommocolonia. They planned on taking over the town. However, Lt. John R. Fox had other plans.
Fox was from Cincinnati, Ohio. While at Wilberforce University he became a part of the ROTC program. Chief Warrant Officer Aaron R. Fisher was one of his superiors.
World War II
In 1940, Fox graduated and was the Second Lieutenant of artillery in the Army. Since Fox was African-American, he was placed into the 92nd Infantry Division, a part of the 598th Field Artillery Battalion when World War II began.
He landed in Italy with the rest of the 92nd division. They worked to move toward the north. They crossed the Arno River and helped in the battle on the Gothic Line.
In November, the 92nd division helped with patrols by the Serchio River Valley. Fox was moved to the 366th Infantry Regiment. Aaron Fisher, his mentor, was in the same regiment 26 years before.
The unit was surprised by the morning after Christmas attack. They moved back from their position. However, Fox volunteered to stay behind.
He was to call in an airstrike against the enemy. He was not the only person to hang back. A few other members of the unit stayed as well.
As the Germans pushed toward the unit, Fox fired upon them. Artillery fired at the Germans as well. As they got closer to him, so did the fire.
The Germans surrounded the home Fox was in. He radioed artillery, “that last round was just where I wanted it, bring it in 60 yards more.”
Rounds would fall right down on top of Fox. They radioed back, asking if that was correct. “There are more of them than there are us. Fire it,” Fox said.
A Brave Sacrifice
Fox heroically died as the Americans rained down fire power. This act allowed the Americans to take back the village, and launch a counterattack.
Americans found Fox’s body and those of the eight Italians who were with him. However, 100 Germans were lying dead around them.
When Fox’s brave actions were recognized, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in 1982. In 1997, he was upgraded to the Medal of Honor.
The Italians were so grateful that they made a statue of Fox and the eight Italians who died with him in Sommocolonia. Hasbro also made a G.I. Joe in his honor.