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"I had used up every bit of my ammunition. And I turned away, and at this point the Zeros found me." (Video interview, 17:11).

   Samuel B. Folsom
Collection image
Samuel Folsom in flight gear [n.d.]
War: World War, 1939-1945; Korean War, 1950-1953
Branch: Marine Corps
Unit: VMF-121 (Marine Fighter Squadron); VMF(N)-533 (Marine Night Fighter Squadron)
Service Location: Pacific Theater; Korea; Japan; Norway; United States; Guadalcanal (Solomon Islands); Okinawa Island (Ryukyu Islands); Enewetak Atoll (Marshall Islands)
Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
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Though he spent two years at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy training as a Merchant Marine, his enthusiasm for flying eventually brought Samuel Folsom to flight training and a commission with the Marine Corps. Dispatched overseas with very little flight time under his belt, and without any experience flying at altitude, his first combat missions were white-knuckle affairs. As part of famed Marine Fighter Squadron VMF-121, he experienced a number of close calls and memorable actions that took place during his missions to shoot down the enemy’s "Betty" planes. The Guadalcanal campaign was the beginning of a notable military career for Folsom, including (among many roles) stints as the Executive Officer for night fighter squadrons during World War II and Korea, as a test pilot for the Navy, as the Fleet Air Readiness Officer in the Office of Naval Operations in Washington, and as the Assistant Naval Attaché to Norway.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (10 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (90 min.)
»Memoir, untitled [2/13/1943]
More like this
»Guadalcanal: 75 Years Later
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (10 items)
Transition from Maritime Academy and Naval Reserve to Marine Corps; training. (02:31) Limits of training; not getting enough time in an airplane; no experience wearing an oxygen mask or flying above 12 thousand feet. (02:17) Heading to Guadalcanal; memorable experience with a catapult; living in tents in the mud. (02:53)
First experiences in combat; inexperience at altitude; guns wouldn’t fire. (02:12) Main goals of combat missions; losing pilots in unit. (00:58) Close call being chased by a Japanese zero at low altitude; shooting down an enemy plane. (02:58)
Mission that resulted in damage to plane; having to land while missing a flap. (05:31) Memorable experience while on Okinawa; seeing an enemy plane fly into the smokestack of the USS New Mexico. (02:53) Experiences as a test pilot; flying at high altitude. (01:33)
Experiences flying with a night fighter squadron in the Korean War; Battle of Chosin Reservoir. (05:43)  

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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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