John C. Foster
Seaman 1st Class
U. S. Coast Guard
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 07/10/1942 - 11/09/1945
40 MM AA Gun, USS Roger B. Taney
Audio Samples

Jack was born in Rahway, New Jersey, the youngest of four children. His mother was Dorothea Trembly, his father Samuel A. Foster, a successful contractor and multi-millionaire, who, Jack recalls, went bankrupt in the Great Depression. "We lost everything. We had two airplanes and back then, having an airplane was something," he recalls. The family relocated to Monmouth County, New Jersey, near Princeton, where they lived for "13 or 14 years" in "an old stone house" that his father's attorney gave them. Nearly penniless, the family worked hard to make a living, including raising vegetables and chickens for meat and eggs. John earned ten cents an hour at a gas station, and 17 and a half cents for fixing flats. He often earned "six or seven dollars" a week, and gave his mother five to buy groceries with because we had to eat," he recalls. John and his father walked along highways to pick up blown tire tubes they sold for three cents a pound. At age 17, John dug ditches for an electrical company, earning fifty cents an hour. After two years of high school in Ginsberg, New Jersey he dropped out to drive a truck. He then became an apprentice carpenter, making seventy-five cents an hour. The family came to Louisiana in 1940, where the elder Foster re-joined Silas-Mason Company, for whom he had worked in World War I. He was general superintendent at an ordnance plant with 500 carpenters working for him. At age 18, John worked at that plant as a foreman, supervising 25 carpenters. In July of 1942 he joined the U.S. Coast Guard. After boot camp in New Orleans and anti-aircraft school he was stationed at Brunswick, Georgia where he served aboard formerly civilian yachts that were armed with depth charges and 50-caliber machine guns. His orders were to search for German submarines and small boats selling diesel fuel to enemy submarines. John served a year on the USS Muskegon, then transferred to the USS Roger B. Taney, where he was a loader on a 40-mm antiaircraft gun during the battle of Okinawa. He recalls the ship shot down five kamikazes. For three months he was bodyguard for the commander of a flotilla, Admiral Cobb, who used the vessel as a command post. After the war the Roger B. Taney sailed to Wayakama, Japan where the crew evacuated 500 prisoners of war, mostly British and Australian. John was discharged on November 9, 1945 as a Seaman, 1st Class and returned to New Jersey. He drove a coal truck, and in 1946 he married Ester Boone who was from Shreveport. (They would have two children, one grandchild and three great-grandchildren.) After seven years the family returned to Shreveport. John helped build 300 houses on Shreve Island in 1955, then opened his own company, Foster Remodeling Service, which he operated until 2006.