The US Army Lieutenant Who Called an Artillery Strike on Himself

In a Nutshell

Enrolling into the military is patriotism at the highest level, but dying in combat is the ultimate sacrifice for your country. Back in 1944, Lieutenant John Robert Fox and his tight-knit squad were facing enemy fire from a large swarm of German soldiers. So, to halt their advances and protect his fellow comrades, he requested an artillery strike on his own position…

The Whole Bushel

Friendly fire is extremely frowned upon in the military world, and that’s because the brotherly-bond formed between individuals fighting for the same cause should never be broken. Those standing by your side in the heat of war should protect you from the enemy, not take your life. But, in 1944 during World War II, Lieutenant John Robert Fox purposely used a friendly artillery strike against himself.

He was a part of the 366th Infantry Regiment, which was within the 92nd Infantry Division or otherwise known as the Buffalo Soldiers due to their African-American ethnicity. He and his platoon were deployed in the Northern Italian village of Sommocolonia to defend the Italian front. However, German troops were progressing with force, and before long they forced to retreat.

At this point, the American hierarchy decided to comprise a small unit to remain in Sommocolonia, just as observers to gather intel. Fox was one of the soldiers that volunteered to be in that unit, and on boxing day of 1944, he was stationed at a second-floor window in a house.

He witnessed the German forces attacking with intent and rapidly pushing towards his teams positioning. Fox knew that if the German soldiers managed to reach his squad, they’d stand no chance at all considering how outnumbered they were. So, this is when the incredible man displayed a commendable act of bravery; the Lieutenant radioed to request an artillery strike on his position.

Despite himself, and the soldier receiving the request knowing full-well he’d take the full impact, he knew it would do damage to the enemy. One strike came in, but it wasn’t precise enough, so Fox radioed again to move it even closer to his own location. During that conversation, he stated “There’s more of them than there is of us. Fire it!”

The order was then obliged, and hundreds of bombs came raining down from the sky, each one capable of causing mass destruction. Subsequently, the German troops were stopped in their tracks, and Fox’s team were able to regain control of Sommocolonia. When the dust had settled, American soldiers searched through the rubble, recovered Fox’s body, and discovered approximately 100 German bodies alongside it.
Initially, Lieutenant John Robert Fox was issued with the Distinguished Service Cross in 1982. But, in 1997, more than 50 years after the incident occurred, Fox was rightfully awarded the Medal of Honor. Following that, he was buried at the Colebrook Cemetery in Whitman, Massachusetts, and that Medal of Honor secured his legacy as being a courageous soldier that put America before his own life.