October 9, 1911|
|Died||March 21, 2011
|Service/branch||United States Air Force|
|Unit||Montana Air National Guard|
Mayhew Y. "Bo" Foster (October 9, 1911 – March 21, 2011) was an American soldier who flew captured Nazi war criminal Hermann Göring from Austria to Germany for interrogation by the 7th Army. For his actions in World War II, Foster was awarded both the Silver Star and the Légion d'Honneur.
At the end of the war, Göring surrendered to the Allied Powers in the Bavarian Alps. On May 9, 1945, Foster transported Göring back to Germany on a 55-minute flight in an unescorted, unarmed L-5, a larger plane than the L4 he normally piloted, because Göring weighed more than 300 pounds (140 kg). According to China Daily, in a letter to his wife, Virginia, written at the time, Foster describes his first impression of Göring as "effeminate [and] gave me the creeps . . . Several times I had the impulse to turn the plane over and see if I could shake him out, but he was wedged in like a champagne cork."
Foster said that Göring, who spoke some English, avoided any talk of Adolf Hitler, with whom Göring - as the commander of the Luftwaffe - had fallen out of favour as the total German defeat neared. "He acted as though he was going on a sightseeing tour, or really as though I was going on a sightseeing tour, and he was showing me where he grew up. I had a .45 in a shoulder holster, but he couldn't reach that. But neither could I, because I had two hands controlling the plane."
Foster further recalled Göring as having been sharp, friendly, and witty, having joked when Foster asked him when Germany began manufacturing jets. "Too late," Göring was said to have answered. Foster continued: "I could see that he was like one of our officers if he'd been picked up. I wouldn't say it changed my view of the war, but it showed me that there are [He did not finish the statement.] . . . Well, I questioned all that we knew about these vicious people."
By October 1945, Foster was back in the United States, having flown seventy reconnaissance combat missions during his wartime service. He returned to his adopted home state of Montana, where he was appointed lieutenant colonel in the Montana Army National Guard. He was thereafter promoted to brigadier general, a rank that he held from 1963 until 1971.
A native of Richmond, Virginia, Foster graduated in 1937 with a degree in English from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. He and his wife, Virginia Lou Foster (February 15, 1916 – May 7, 1993) were married in 1940. The couple had one daughter, Susan Carol Foster Korkalo (1944–2007).
Foster received the Silver Star for his wartime service in southern France in 1944. It was not until 2009 that he received the French Legion of Honor, when Pierre Vimont, the French Ambassador to the United States, released a letter hailing Foster for his "personal, precious contribution to the United States' decisive role in the liberation of our country during World War II."
Foster died at the age of ninety-nine in a nursing home in Missoula, Montana. His last city of residence was Livingston in Park County, Montana. Survivors included son-in-law Roy E. Korkalo of Livingston, grandson Chris Korkalo, and a sister, Priscilla F. Howell.
- "Social Security Death Index". ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved June 25, 2011.
- Matt Volz (31 January 2011). "Pilot recalls captured Nazi leader". China Daily. Retrieved 25 March 2011.
- Michael Albans (1 February 2011). "Mayhew Foster". Malta Times. Retrieved 25 March 2011.
- "Mayhew "Bo" Foster". Bryan-College Station Eagle, Bryan/College Station, Texas, March 22, 2011. Retrieved June 25, 2011.