OBITUARY

Floyd F. Foster Jr.

October 24, 1924February 2, 2019

FLOYD FREEMAN FOSTER, JR., WW II Veteran, devoted husband, beloved father, grandfather and great grandfather, passed away on February 2, 2019, in Houston, Texas.

Floyd was born on October 24, 1924 to Floyd, Sr. and Florence Foster in Cambridge, Massachusetts and graduated from Wilbraham Academy (now Wilbraham & Monson Academy) in western Massachusetts in 1942. After a short stint at Massachusetts State College at Amherst, he joined the US Army in late 1942 and left for Europe in 1944 to defend his county. During WW II, Floyd served as a Communications Sargent (radio operator) in a Command Half-Track with the 420th Armored Field Artillery Battalion of the 10th Armored Division (the “Fighting Tigers”) of General George Patton’s 3rd Army. His unit was sent to Bastogne, Belgium in December 1944 along with the 101st Airborne Division early in the Battle of the Bulge and was surrounded by the Germans while defending that town. He survived this battle after several harrowing experiences earning a Purple Heart for wounds suffered in the battle. His unit was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation for their service in this battle. After discharge in early 1946, Floyd went back to college and was awarded his BA and MA in Geology in 1949 and 1950 from Boston University. He met Sally Wroe, the love of his life, while at Boston University.

Sally and Floyd were married on June 1, 1948 and took off on their “great adventure” starting in the oil fields of West Texas two years later. Their 57-year marriage produced two sons, four grandchildren and six great grandchildren. Sally passed away in 2005. After a successful career as a very talented geologist & geophysicist with Standard Oil Company of Texas (Chevron), Transocean Oil Company and Burnett Oil Company, he started his own very successful prospect generating oil & gas exploration company in 1983, FF Foster & Associates. He retired in 1994 to enjoy his family, grandchildren, great grandchildren and golf in his retirement years. Floyd was a member of Pines Presbyterian Church in Houston for over 40 years. He is survived by older son and daughter-in-law, Peter and Dorothy Foster, his younger son and daughter-in-law, Michael and Colleen Foster, his grandchildren, Sarah Foster and husband Dave Roberts, Michael Foster Jr. and wife, Chia, David Foster and wife Stephanie, Stephen Foster and wife Jill, and great grandchildren, John, Emma, Miles, Joy, William and Aeon. Floyd is also survived by two brothers-in-law, Govert Bassett and family and John Wroe and family.

Friends are invited to a visitation with the family from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. on Monday, February 11th at Memorial Oaks Funeral Home, 13001 Katy Freeway at Eldridge. A private family graveside service will be held the morning of February 12th. A Memorial Service will be held for Floyd at Pines Presbyterian Church, 12751 Kimberly, on February 12th at 11:30 a.m.

Services

  • Visitation Monday, February 11, 2019
  • Memorial Service Tuesday, February 12, 2019
REMEMBERING

Floyd F. Foster Jr.

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Emma MacDonald

February 11, 2019

One day more than thirty five years ago, I met a man who changed my life forever. A friend had suggested I interview at a new start up oil and gas exploration company. I was not prepared for the whirlwind of a man who greeted me. Deciding to go to work for Floyd Foster was the best decision of my life. His zest for life, love for his family, devotion to his company and employees, and true love of exploration was contagious. His paternal attitude towards me gave me support through some of the best and worst times in my life. The national tragedies we shared together made us not only a better company but a support system of dedicated staff. My favorite memory is of Mr, Foster frantically coloring maps with a set of oil pastels that someone had given him. The hot pink was his favorite color and he did color with the vigor of his dynamic personality. That wonderful man will be missed but I still treasure that set of oil pastels that I inherited from him when he retired.

Peter Foster

February 5, 2019

(WWII story continued)
On the actual approach to our perimeter defense, I knew that we could get shot pretty easily, coming in from the German lines, by our own troops. I remembered that a fellow by the name of Al Putis (Lynn, Massachusetts), and his buddy “Skinny” Combs (Fostoria, Ohio) were the crew on that tank. As soon as we got in what I though was hailing distance, I let out a yell… “PUTIS”….there was no answer…and I thought maybe the outfit had moved… we keep on going up the road and I yelled again…”PUTIS!!!! THIS IS FOSTER WITH GRANT…… DON’T YOU GUYS SHOOT US!!!!!!!”…. Sure enough a yell came back….“IS THAT YOU SNAKE????” (My nickname)… “YEAH”…….”GET IN HERE, BEFORE YOU GET HURT!!!!!!”…. Sweeter words, I’ve never heard !!!

The way we went to get back to our outfit, I figured we traveled about 10 kilometers, all in all. After some chow, Grant and I reported our actions and observations to headquarters. We traced our route back on the wall map, and headquarters in turn, pointed out that the “dense woods” we had so carefully stayed away from was a known concentration of German soldiers and equipment. Later we found out that the German 39th Regiment of the 26th VG division, and supporting armor, had moved into that area just hours before we had decided to breakout. So the roadblock was well supported.

We lost all our vehicles, but Capt. McCloskey infiltrated the outer ring of the enemy with most of his troops, and found our trains and Service Battery. He joined Lt. Col. Creighton W. Abrams (37 Tank Battalion, 4th Armored Division), for the breakthrough to Bastogne a few days later, on December 26th. It was reported that Abrams asked McCloskey what was in the trucks, et al, and Mac answered “GAS and AMMO”. Abe said, “OK…but stay back ---I don’t want an explosion in your trucks to harm my column!!!!!” The 420th was eventually resupplied and reunited and went on to distinguish itself until wars end in May 1945."
Floyd F. Foster, Jr.

Peter Foster

February 5, 2019

(WWII story continued)
At four o’clock we struck out of the woods and followed the tree line. We had gone about 500 yards over the crest of the hill, when we saw a grouping of three small hamlets in a triangular layout…Sibret, Villeroux & Chenogne. To reach our lines, we would have to pass through at least one of these villages. (In reality each village was just a grouping of maybe five or six farmhouses)….We lay by the trees quite a while, and looked the situation over. Remarkably, there seemed to be no movement in the area, other than civilian Belgians…..We said a prayer and headed down over a long, low, wide-open field, up to the first houses. We walked right up the gravel street, and decided to bluff it out down the main street of Sibret…. We must have been a pretty astounding sight. We had our guns slung over our arms like hunters, and all I had on my head was a wool knit cap. (I had lost my helmet when we crossed the river.) We met three people in that village, and none of them would tell us anything……”Where Boche??” … but no answers. We didn’t ever stop moving, and just kept going right out of the area…with both of us spread apart, trying to cover each other.

Finally I decided that we had had enough luck with the towns and roads, so we took to the open fields again. We went halfway between some very big and dense woods, and walked as fast as we could in the snow. We expected any minute to hear a machine gun open up…..but by God’s Grace we were lucky enough to get by unmolested. Whether the Jerries thought we were some of their own men (Since they were using our uniforms then too.), or not ….I don’t know.

About 5:30 PM, in the dusk of the evening, we finally approached our area. I recognized the high tension electrical towers that were going down the dirt road that led to one of our tank emplacements… ….of course there was no electricity…. but the towers were still there…. And they were my landmark. (continued)

Peter Foster

February 5, 2019

(WWII story continued)
That day was the longest day I have ever spent. At nine o’clock in the morning, we both thought it was about two in the afternoon.(That’s how long it seemed!). We didn’t dare sleep, so we just kept patrolling the woods. Looking from the top right hand corner of the woods, we could see German soldiers on the road at an intersection below. They had captured a US light tank, and had one of their own armored cars. Occasionally a German motorcycle rider would go by the road below us….I asked Grant if he would ride with me on the motorcycle if we captured it ..he agreed ..but we decided that it wouldn’t be too smart to travel the roads that way….even if we did get the “bike”. (A note of explanation: I had been a Section Chief of the message center motorcycles for the battalion in the States.)

One thing that I forgot to mention was that about nine o’clock in the morning it started to snow….and continued snowing until about one o’clock in the afternoon. At two o’clock the sun came out long enough for me to take a directional reading with my watch…..(Never thought I would need to use that method we were taught, with the wrist watch on the right hand , and the pencil or matchstick on the dial to project a shadow to the numbers.)…From then on we planned which way we would travel that night. As we talked it over we decided to leave about four o’clock in the afternoon. Reasons…darkness was no help anymore with the snow on the ground…we were just as apt to get shot by our own men at night….and I wanted enough daylight to spot those “high tension towers” Capt. Oleson had told me about.

Peter Foster

February 5, 2019

(WWII story continued)
I looked at my watch as it started to rain and found that it was almost five o’clock in the morning…. (Time sure flies when you’re having fun!!!)….We took off our overshoes and our overcoats. (The overcoats were soaking wet from the water in the ditch and weighed a “ton”. The overshoes seemed too clumsy for the footwork we anticipated. ) Orienting ourselves we started to infiltrate back through enemy territory.

As wet as it was…the rain was a godsend, because it kept the visibility down and held off dawn longer, as well as covering up some of our noise. I had the general direction in mind, but we couldn’t go back the way we came (on the road) because the enemy had blocked it off.

To begin with, I knew we had to cross back over the river, and it took us about two hours to find a safe and shallow place to wade it. We finally found a place that was about waist deep and crossed. (Boy…was that water cold!!!!) We avoided all the little hamlets and roads, and any signs of people just to be safe. This meant that most of the time we trudged through knee-deep snow in open fields. It’s amazing, in the pre-dawn darkness and rain, just how much a haystack piled in a snow field, with a pole sticking up out of it can look like a Tank with its gun pointed upward, from a distance. At about seven o’clock in the morning it started to get light, and we found a large cedar grove on the side of a hill that looked as though it would be a good refuge for us while we worked out our plan for the day. (December 22nd).
(continued)

Peter Foster

February 5, 2019

(WWII story continued)
To the immediate right of the portion of the road, where we deployed, was a fair size hill. I was afraid that the Germans would circle around us and advance on our flank down this hill…Since I was a sergeant at the time, I took Grant with me, and we started up the hill with our carbines as fire power. We yelled our intentions to Capt. McClosky over the roar of gunfire, and proceeded to make our way. About half way up the hill automatic gunfire started to track us….

Whether it was our own boys, who thought we were Germans, or it was the Germans shooting… we were under severe fire. In the snow going up the hill we were getting out of breath. We fortunately found a drainage ditch about three feet deep, with one foot of water. We “bellied” into the ditch, caught our breath, and tried to check out where the troops were. The firing stopped tracking us and we could hear some troops coming over the top of the hill…this was bad because all our buddies were below us. Grant and I snaked our way in the ditch until we heard the Germans coming down the hill. We lay in the water and tried to camouflage ourselves as best we could. We stayed absolutely still and the Germans passed right by us. All of a sudden we were outside the closing ring. We crawled along the ditch until we were on the right side of the hill, and then moved on up to the top. Here we took a break and evaluated our potential as a fighting force. We had two carbines, and now only two extra clips of ammo remaining, between the two of us. We noted the sizable number of Germans involved, and we finally decided that we would be wise to make our way back to our unit. The only problem was that our task force was beginning to deploy, and I didn’t know exactly what they were going to do nor where they were headed…but one thing I did know and that was where we had come from. We finally decided to work out way back to Hdqtrs. Battery, at Senonchamps. (continued)

Peter Foster

February 5, 2019

(WWII story continued)
The noise of our own vehicles echoed in the quiet of the snow covered landscape. We had just crossed a bridge over a relatively small river….when the noise of the gasoline engines from our own tanks and half-tracks were joined by a low grumble of heavy diesel engines behind us. Unfortunately diesel engines meant German vehicles, at least armored half-tracks and probably Tiger tanks.

Suddenly the beautiful dark night that help hide us was ablaze with lights……..The vehicles behind us had turned on their headlights and even some spotlights….White parachute flares were fired as well…and boy did we stand out there on the road! An incendiary shell ignited a barn on the roadside, and things started to get busy….In front of us was a German road block…so we were in rather a tight predicament. Machine gun and small arms fire were joined with some bigger stuff from the Germans tanks...our two tanks were light tanks with only a 37mm gun on the turrent, so we didn’t have much fire power. It seems that our Sherman tank, manned by our maintenance crew, had developed trouble and had to turn back earlier, leaving our half-track as the last vehicle in the column. We found that the entire column was trapped on the road with a limited field of fire, particularly to the rear. We dismounted, took defensive positions, and started firing. (continued)

Peter Foster

February 5, 2019

(WWII story continued)
At about 11 o’clock the night of the 21st of December 1944, Captain John A. McCloskey, our Bn Asst. S-3, was picked as our vehicle commander, and I was chosen as the radio operator for his command half-track, which was to head this task force. PFC Alfred Grant (Oxford, Michigan) was our machine gunner, and Roy Eads (Cyril, Oklahoma) may have been our driver, I’m not sure. (Roy was killed in action, possibly during this operation.) The crew was made up of various personnel available for one reason or another. I was “picked” because we had two operators on our radio, and I could be spared for a short time for this mission.

1st Sgt. Wilton Stevens (Abington, Virginia) found me, and informed me that I had been chosen to be the radio operator for this mission. I was called to the Operations Room in a schoolhouse, being used as our fire direction center. My officer, Capt. Gilbert Oleson (Moline, Illinois), the S-2 of the battalion, filled me in on what was to take place. He had a large-scale area map on the wall and he showed me in detail where we hoped to go and where we currently were, as well. He reminded me that along the road at our headquarters position was a long line of high tension electric line towers extending generally east-west, that were visible above the trees, houses, and snow. He noted the compass direction both outward, and back inward to our position. I took it all in, and I thanked him for spending the time with me. Looking back at it some months later, I realized how naïve I was at the time…and I really didn’t know just what Capt. Olson was doing for me…..Possibly he actually saved my life or at least my capture.

Finally we were ready to take off . Our column consisted of two light tanks at the front, the two half-tracks in the middle, and the Sherman tank in the rear. We had slowly moved along to the south for about 5 kilometers in the dark, moonless night (no lights were used by any of our vehicles). (continued)

Peter Foster

February 5, 2019

(WWII story continued)
On the 17th of December 1944, Eisenhower personally ordered the first reinforcing units into “The Bulge”…the 7th Armored Division on the north and the 10th Armored Division on the south. The 10th Armored Division withdrew from the front in the Saar River area, location. and proceed northward as fast as possible to shore up the defenses of the First Army north of Luxembourg City in Belgium, and the sector in Luxembourg itself. Having traveled all night CCB of the 10th Armored arrived in Bastogne on the 18th. The 420th AFA Bn, had loaded up on gasoline and ammunition at Luxembourg City, with all we could carry with us…and left our supply trains there, to get additional big shells for our M-7’s (105 Howitzers on an open tank chassis), and more gasoline and small arms ammo. They were to rejoin us as soon as possible.

The lead elements of the 101st Airborne arrived in Bastogne late on the night on the 18th of December. They had moved right from a rest area, and some had very little arms or ammo. The next morning the Headquarters of CCB and the 420th AFA BN, of the 10th Armored, supplied them with as much small arms and ammo as possible, some of it being from 9th Armored material that had been abandoned just a day or so before.

Unfortunately our supply trains had been held up by what appeared to be a German roadblock, and the promised air drop of ammo and gas had been delayed due to poor weather. At the rate we were firing support cover for all these teams, our ammo supplies were getting dangerous low, and by the 21st of December Hdqtrs. of CCB decided that we should try to send a task force out to break through the roadblock and bring in the trains, particularly for the 420th artillery. The 420th was to supply at least one half-track that would maintain communications with both the supply trains and battalion headquarters, plus another half-track and a Sherman tank if possible. Two light tanks were assigned from another unit. (continued below)


Peter Foster

February 5, 2019

Friends & Family,
Printed below is my dad's personal account of his WWII experience at the Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne, Belgium when Dad has just turned 20 yrs. old in 1944. It is rather lengthy so I will have to put it in several entry's to get the whole story in. Her it is:

"My name is Floyd Foster, and at the time of the Battle of the Bulge I was a twenty-year old from Natick, Massachusetts, with just over two years in the service. I was one of the radio operators in a half-track, for the S-2 Section, of Battalion Headquarters of the 420th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, Combat Command “B” (CCB), 10th Armored Division. “BJ” Bjorklund (Bridgeport, Conn.), and myself kept the intelligence radio net open 24 hours a day. We were both T/4s. (Technician 4th grade), and I also filled in as relief driver whenever needed. Now half-tracks are great vehicles, however sitting in the rear working the radios, I found that I was flanked by two large capacity gasoline tanks protected by armor plate…armor that had proven to be very little protection against a German 88 or tank attack. Being a radio operator was how I got involved in a little escapade that is related below. (continued below)

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY