First Lieutenant John R. Fox was a member of Cannon Company, 366th Infantry, 92d Infantry Division, serving as a forward observer while attached to the 598th Field Artillery Battalion in Italy during World War II. On December 26, 1944, while in the Serchio River Valley Sector near Sommocolonia, Lieutenant Fox exhibited extraordinary heroism at the risk of his own life.
Christmas Day had been spent in positions that had been occupied for some weeks, but during the night, enemy soldiers in civilian clothes began to infiltrate the area. By early morning, the town was largely under enemy control, and an organized attack by uniformed German formations was launched around 4:00 a.m. Reports indicated that the area was being heavily shelled by the Germans, and although most of the U.S. infantry forces withdrew from the town, Lieutenant Fox and members of his observer party remained behind on the second floor of a house, directing defensive fires.
At 8:00 a.m., Lieutenant Fox reported that the Germans were in the streets and attacking in strength. He called for artillery fire increasingly close to his own position, requesting that the barrage be fired despite the heavy barrage already in the area. The Germans continued to press forward in large numbers, surrounding the position. Despite his commander's protests, Lieutenant Fox again called for artillery fire, stating, "Fire it! There's more of them than there are of us. Give them hell!"
Lieutenant Fox's final adjustment brought the barrage on top of his position. The bodies of Lieutenant Fox and his party were later found in the vicinity of his position when it was taken by the enemy. Lieutenant Fox's actions inflicted heavy casualties, causing the deaths of approximately 100 German soldiers, thereby delaying the enemy's advance until infantry and artillery units could be reorganized to meet the attack.
Lieutenant Fox was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 1997. A man who gave it all for his brothers, and his country.