Foster Fuels honors our veterans and active members of the United States Armed Forces.
Foster Fuels is honored to support all branches of the United States Armed Forces with fuel essential to their mission. It is the work of these brave Americans that allows all of us to live our lives in the greatest country in the world.
This page has been set up to honor family members and friends of employees and customers of Foster Fuels who have served our nation. If you have someone who you would like to honor, please click here to submit his or her information. We will post anything from a name to a picture and a bio. May God bless these brave people and their families, and may God bless America.
James R. Bailey proudly served his country from 1942–1946 in the U.S. Merchant Marines, attaining the rank of Lieutenant. The Merchant Marines were a vital part of W.W. II, delivering all types of supplies to sustain the war efforts. They carried everything from toothpaste to armored vehicles and Lt. Bailey remembered carrying several locomotive engines to Italy. They were constantly on guard for enemy aircraft, whose goal was to sink as many Merchant Marine ships as possible.
Lt. Bailey had two brothers, Maxwell and Newman Bailey, serving in the Merchant Marines at the same time. James and Newman Bailey returned home, but Maxwell was killed and was buried at sea. James was glad to be able to return home in 1946.
Lt. Bailey said, “We never knew where we were going to deliver supplies until we got there, or where we would ship from next.
Charles J. Blanks proudly served his country in the U.S. Army as a Private First Class during World War II from 1943–1945. P.F.C. Blanks was a Rifleman in the 88th Infantry Division during the Mediterranean Theater and received three Bronze Service Stars for being in action in the Rome-Arno Campaign, the North-Apennines Campaign, and the Po Valley Campaign. He was wounded in both legs in Italy and received the Purple Heart Award. He told a friend he had to learn to walk again and went from a bed to a wheelchair, to a walker, to a cane, and to recovery.
A special memory to Mr. Blanks was seeing the ship, The Queen Elizabeth, out of a huge window at the Army Hospital. The ship carried him and the other wounded soldiers back to the United States.
Mr. Blanks recently passed away at the age of 89. We humbly thank P. F.C. Blanks for his sacrifice.
Lyle was a World War II Army veteran. He enlisted on November 23, 1943 and was honorably discharged on January 11, 1946. He was a Private who served with the 8th Infantry Division, the 28th Infantry Regiment, Company E. He was taken prisoner in France on August 29, 1944 and returned to service on September 18, 1944. He was later wounded in action on February 22, 1945. Lyle was a Purple Heart recipient.
He passed away on October 5, 2015, at the age of 93.
WILLIAM ROYAL ELDER, JR. (JUNIOR) – U.S. MARINES 1943–46
William Royal Elder, Jr., (Junior Elder) served proudly in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1943–46. His wartime assignment was onboard the USS New York Battleship. The USS New York is the sister-ship to the USS Arizona that was sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor. On the USS New York, Elder provided strategic support in the critical battles of Okinawa and Iwo Jima.
Elder remembers being constantly on guard for the hundreds of suicide bomber planes, “Kamikazes” attacking his ship. Many planes crashed next to the ship. Elder stated, “One suicide bomber crashed into the side of the ship with the plane’s wings ending up on the deck of the ship.”
Richard Maxwell Harper “Mack” served his country in the U.S. Navy from 1946–1947. He patrolled the seas in the “Post WW II – State of Emergency Status”, which lasted for one year after the war’s official end. These brave men maintained a “revered presence” to deter any future uprising by enemy forces.
Elwood Holt, from Brookneal, VA, served his country in the U.S. Army from 1941–1945. He was stationed at Schofield Barracks at Pearl Harbor when attacked by the Japanese on Dec. 7, 1941*. He also saw action in New Guinea and the Philippines during the war. On returning home, he was nicknamed “Schofield,” which stuck with him his entire life.
*He described the attack on Pearl Harbor as, “the worst day of my life”.
His two brothers, James and Carroll, also were in the U.S. Army during WW II.
Gerald Isaacs, of Rustburg, Va., was born in February of 1919. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in January of 1943 and served his country in China as a crew chief on a P47 in 1944 and 1945. One hair-raising experience Mr. Isaacs endured was when the transport plane he was on went down in the Himalaya Mountains in Burma on his way out of China headed back to India. Thankfully all survived. He was honorably discharged in March 1946.
HUGH ATLEE RADER, JR. – U.S. MARINE CORPS 1942–1945
Hugh Atlee Rader, Jr. proudly served his country in the United States Marine Corps during World War II from 1942–1945. After basic training at Paris Island and several short stateside assignments, he was deployed to the Pacific Islands. He was a Staff Sergeant and a very proud member of the “Fighting Fourth” Division that was one of the first waves to hit Iwo Jima. He also saw action in Saipan and Tinian.
When interviewed in the 1960s by a reporter from the Roanoke Times about being at Iwo Jima, Staff Sgt. Rader just said, “It was hell.” He never discussed his time spent overseas.
Hugh Rader recently passed away in April at the age of 90.
Foster Fuels clicks its heels and salutes Mr. Rader for his dedicated service to our country.
JAMES MASON RUCKER – U.S. MERCHANT MARINES 1944–46
James Mason Rucker, Gladys (Campbell Co.), served his country as a U.S. Merchant Marine during World War II from October 1944 to December 1946. The Merchant Marines provided a vital and crucial role during the war by delivering all types of supplies, including food, clothing, ammunition, fuel, and even manpower. The Merchant Marine fleet was constantly under attack by enemy forces to prevent supplies from reaching our troops.
Ensign Rucker was a Radio Officer and saw action in three different war zones: the Pacific, the Atlantic, and the Mediterranean Sea. The Merchant Marines suffered the greatest percentage of war-related deaths of all the U.S. Armed Services. It is estimated that there were 9,300 Mariners killed and 833 ships sunk during the war.
Mr. Rucker was actively involved with the American Legion Post 16 Honor Guard.
Bruce was a neighbor and a friend from Roanoke, VA who became my hero. For his sacrifice he was awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart while giving aid to his comrades in Quang Tri, South Vietnam, on Feb 25, 1969.
David S. Spicer, of Charlottesville, Va. proudly served as an Army medic during the Korean War from 1951–1953.
After finishing basic training at Camp Pickett, Spicer was selected to be a combat medic. He was then sent to Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri where he learned rudimentary skills such as giving shots, taking blood and dressing wounds. With only six weeks of training, he was deployed to Fairbanks, Alaska where he served as the doctor to army soldiers and Eskimos located in the remote area villages.
During an interview with the Daily Press Spicer said, “It taught me to face things, and to do what you can, when you can. I was taught a great lesson in that.”
After his honorable discharge, he rejoined his father and brother as co-owner and operator of their family business, Spicer Brother’s Cleaners, which served UVA and the Charlottesville community for nearly 60 years.
Thomas E. “Tommy” Spicer Jr., of Charlottesville, Va. served in the United States Army during the Korean War from December 14th 1950 to November 10th 1952. After his honorable discharge, he rejoined his father and brother as co-owner and operator of their family business, Spicer Brother’s Cleaners, which served UVA and the Charlottesville community for nearly 60 years.
Mr. Julian E. Waller of Nathalie, Va. proudly served in the U.S. Army from 1943–1946. Private First-Class Waller was a part of the Normandy Invasion, better known as D-Day, on June 6, 1944. He also served in Germany, France, Belgium, and Luxemburg.
He is married to Betty Tribble Waller and they have three children.
LT. COLONEL JOHN WOODELL (JACK) U.S. NAVY/U.S. AIR FORCE 1944–1974
Lt. Colonel John (Jack) Woodell, of Brookneal, served his country in two branches of the U.S. Armed Services. First, he joined the U.S. Navy and served from 1944–1946, during World War II. He was assigned to a submarine chaser, a small and fast naval vessel, whose duty was to locate and destroy German U-boats (German submarines) in the Atlantic Ocean.
The famous actor, Ernest Borgnine, was a Gunner’s Mate on the ship with Lt. Col. Woodell. He remembers Borgnine making other crewmembers very anxious by shooting the machine gun at passing sharks. ” Everyone had to take cover to keep from being hit.”
After being discharged from the U.S. Navy, he joined the U.S. Air Force and retired in 1974.
COLONEL WALTER BILLS – U.S. AIR FORCE (RETIRED) 1951–79
Walter Bills started his service with the U.S. Air Force as an aviation cadet in 1951 and worked his way up to Colonel before he retired in 1979. Bills served in the Korean War from 1951 to 1952 and the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1969. Walter flew more than 150 combat missions in an F-4 Phantom and was designated squadron leader during that time.
Joel A. Blumberg proudly served his country when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1952. After completing boot camp, Mr. Blumberg was assigned to the Naval Hospital in Jacksonville, FL. Mr. Blumberg was then sent to Pascagoula, MS to be assigned to an LST Unit (Tank Landing Ship). During a training maneuver, Mr. Blumberg became seriously ill and was taken by the Coast Guard to a medical unit until he was transferred to the Naval Hospital in Jacksonville, FL. Joel stated the amount of training that he received as the most memorable part of his service.
CLARENCE WILLIAM DAWSON (BILL) – U.S. ARMY 1943–45
Clarence William Dawson “Bill”, of Halifax Co., served as a Tank Destroyer Commander in the U.S. Army during World War II from 1943–45. He was assigned to the Tank Destroyer Unit #661, A Company in Germany during the war. His unit fired some of the last shots of the war.
He remembers the German soldiers taking refuge in a heavily fortified building, but his Tank Destroyer Unit bombarded the building, forcing the Germans to surrender. He had a pet rabbit that rode on his tank and took cover under the turret when under enemy fire.
His tank unit has a reunion every year in various parts of the country, with Bill always attending.
Buster Edmonds served in the U.S. Army from 1944–1946. Edmonds volunteered to keep his younger brother, Wilson, from being drafted. After basic training, Edmonds reported to Camp Pickett and from there was sent to Naples, Italy. Edmonds remembers the long trip across the Atlantic, where the boat took “maneuvers” to avoid contact with Germany U-boats. Upon arrival in Italy, Edmonds sat outside in the rain over a drainage ditch eating corned beef, cabbage, pinto beans, and a cup of coffee. “Best meal I ever ate. As muddy as it was, I was off the ocean and back on dry land” he said after the journey from the states.
Then Edmonds started training for the 10th Mountain Division. They were to spearhead the spring offensive in Italy against the Germans in the “PO” Valley. The 10th Mountain Division was a part of the 5th Army under the command of Lt. Gen. Mark W. Clark. The Germans surrendered before Edmonds reached the front line.
After the war, Edmonds was assigned to the 3195th Signal Service Company and stayed as part of the occupying force for an additional year. He achieved the rank of T4 Sgt. and arrived back in July 1946.
During World War II, Curtis E. Hamlett, Brookneal, proudly served his country in one of the most famous infantry units in history, the 101st Regiment, 26th Division of the U.S. Army. Staff Sergeant Hamlett served from 1943–1945 and saw heavy action in the initial occupation of Germany. His first battle was at Alsace-Lorraine, Germany and a fierce and violent battle it was. Only 38 out of 162 men who were in the battle came out alive and only 2 out of 38 men in Hamlett’s squadron came out alive. Hamlett said, “I always thought I would get killed or wounded during the war. I hoped the wound or death would not be the result of artillery fire, as those injuries were so violent.”
In November of 1944, during an advancement in Germany, Hamlett and 43 other infantry soldiers found themselves heavily outnumbered and surrounded. All 44 soldiers were captured and spent the next six months in four different Prisoner of War camps. Hamlett felt blessed to return home in 1945.
John Samuel Jennings, of Brookneal, served in the U.S. Army as an Infantryman from 1943–1945.
During this time, Jennings suffered severe shrapnel wounds to his leg on Christmas Day, 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge. He laid on the ground for six hours before receiving medical assistance and waited 10 more days before being operated on. After his operation, he stayed in the hospital for eight months.
CAPTAIN JOHN LAVRA – U.S. NAVY (RETIRED) 1944–1970
Exerts from NASGI.net – John Lavra Collection
Capt. John Lavra, married to Marolyn and resides in Charlotte Court House, VA.
Enlisted U.S. Navy 3 June 1944 Detroit, MI as Seaman Second Class. Combat Air Crewman, Aviation Radioman Striker(ARM).
Boot Camp: First all Aircrew Boot Platoon, NATTC, Jacksonville, Fl. Selected for Flight Training, Preflight at St. Mary’s College, Oakland, Ca. Basic Flight Corpus Christi, TX. First flight in an N2S, 18 July 1946. Advanced Flight: Pensacola, Fl., designated Naval Aviator Commissioned as Ensign USNR 20 October 1947.
USS PRINCETON CV-37, first shot down by ground fire on 25 June 1951, 14th mission. Crash-landed in friendly territory, no injuries. Second time shot down ground fire 20 October 1952, 59 mission. Bailed out 32 miles behind enemy lines, burned to a crisp. Rescued by Navy Helo piloted by Chief Aviation Pilot. A.P. West. He and I were in flight training together. He and his crewman were killed attempting another rescue 2 days later. I was back flying combat about 40 days after my rescue.
NAS TWIN CITIES as Training Officer. Was there only a year and made Captian and was transferred to NAS Oceana, Virginia Beach, VA as X.O. Was their first four striper X.O. and their only USNR X.O. USNR Officer. Cannot command regular Navy Air Station, but when our C.O. was hospitalized, I became acting C.O. That was the end of Reserve Officers serving as X.O. on Regular Navy Air Stations. Retired there 1 November 1970.
26 yrs. 4 mos. 24 days service time, 25 yrs. 9 mos 18 days ACTIVE DUTY .
AWARDS: Purple Heart, Air Medal w/2 gold stars, Navy Commendation Medal w/combat “V”, Navy Unit Commendation, Navy Good Conduct Medal, Naval Reserve Medal w/bronze star, American Theater Medal, WW 11, Victory Medal, Navy Occupation Service Medal w/Asia clasp. China Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal w/Bronze star, Korean Service Medal w/bronze stars/Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (Lebanon), Vietnam Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, South Korean Presidential Unit Citation, Korean War Service Medal. ENLISTED COMBAT AIRCREW WINGS.
Lyle T. Lee, of Campbell County, proudly served his country in the U.S. Army as a Tech Sergeant in the 1st Cavalry Division. He served from January 1943 through December 1946, first in the Philippines and then in Japan.
A memorable experience for Tech. Sgt. Lee was on September 2, 1945 when his 1st Cavalry Division was on Land Barges in the Pacific and ready to land on Japanese soil. On this day, General Douglas A. MacArthur was onboard the USS Missouri battleship and secured the unconditional surrender (Peace Treaty) of Japan to the Allied Forces, thus ending World War II on the Pacific front. Tech. Sgt. Lee remembers the sky being full of B-29 Bombers as a show of force during the surrender.
His unit was the first American Army Division to set foot on Japanese soil. He stayed in Japan until his discharge in 1946.
Foster Fuels salutes Mr. Lyle Lee and all our military veterans for a job well done.
Mr. Phillip Ollie, who lives in Farmville, proudly served his country from September 1940 to December 1945. He was in the U.S. Army, 45th Infantry Division. He was wounded in Sicily in 1943 and received the Purple Heart. While in the hospital, he was reclassified and transferred to the U.S. Air Force.
In 1945, he was waiting to be sent to Japan, but the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in August of 1945 and the war ended shortly thereafter.
After the war, Mr. Ollie continued his relationship with the Armed Services by working for the Department of Defense at Camp Pickett and Langley Air Force Base until he retired in 1972.
Charles T. Walker served in the 2nd Inf. Div. in Korea and followed with 23 years service in the active Army Reserve. Originally from Maryland, he has resided in Moneta for 19 years, having built a place on SML over 30 years ago.
L.H. Williams, who resides in Campbell Co., served his country in the U.S. Army from 1966-1968. Thirteen months of that time he spent in Vietnam, where he was wounded on two separate occasions. He received the Soldier’s Medal and the Purple Heart Medal. The Soldier’s Medal is the highest honor a soldier can receive for an act of valor in a non-conflict situation.
Williams humbly states that “the World War II veterans are the real heroes.” We think all our veterans are heroes.
Lowell Williams joined the U.S. Naval Reserves in 1967, while still in high school. After graduation, he went on active duty from April of 1969 to February of 1971. He was assigned to the aircraft carrier “The Coral Sea” and stationed in Vietnam, where they supported the ground troops with air support, food, and other supplies. He is married to the former Carolyn Dowdy and they reside in Campbell County.
Loren Beach was a veteran of World War II, fought with General Patton’s Third Army, 11th Armored Division, and was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge. He was the recipient of the Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medals, as well as the Combat Infantry Badge, of which he was most proud. During his tenure in the Army, he attended the University of Idaho and the University of Oregon.
After the war, he graduated from Ohio Northern University’s School of Law in Ada, Ohio, under the GI bill, receiving his Juris Doctor in 1954. In 1954, he joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a special agent assigned to Washington, where he spent his career both in the field and later as an instructor at the FBI Academy in Quantico. After retirement, he worked as an investigator on Capitol Hill for many years.
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