Herbert L. Foss


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Herbert Louis Foss was born in Belfast, Maine on October 12, 1871 to John and Sarah (Gipson) Foss.  Little is known about his early life.  Foss enlisted in the United States Navy on January 31, 1897, serving active duty on the USS Marblehead in the Spanish-American War of 1898.  Foss participated in a number of battles, including the Battles of Santiago and Cienfuegos.

Due to his bravery in the Battle of Cienfuegos, Foss was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. While under heavy fire from Spanish batteries on the shore, Foss sliced off a section of cable connecting Cuba and Spain, destroying this line of communication and giving the Americans the upper hand. The Spanish-American War ended with an American victory, U.S. control of the former Spanish lands of Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines, and temporary American control of Cuba.

On February 4, 1900, after returning from the war, Herbert married Hariett Blanche Wood in Portland, Maine.  By 1910 the couple was living in Everett, Mass., and within the next ten years moved to Hingham.  Herbert worked at the Naval Ammunition Depot for many years until his retirement, when he then worked at Fort Hill Cemetery.  His work there involved taking care of the graves of veterans. 

Herbert was also very active in many Hingham and Massachusetts organizations, including the Old Colony Lodge, the Knights Templar, the Spanish War Veterans Post (Worth Bagley Camp #6), and the Odd Fellows.   He actively participated in these organizations, but otherwise lived a quiet life in Hingham. Very few people knew that he had won the Medal of Honor.  According to Foss' biography on the Town of Hingham website, his "receipt of The Congressional Medal of Honor had remained an obscurity to all but his family" until 1987.

In 1937 Herbert collapsed while working at the cemetery and was sent to South Weymouth Hospital, where he died of a coronary embollism.  He was survived by his wife and two children, Clifford and Evelyn.  His funeral was attended by representatives of the organizations of which he was a member, including the Masons and Odd Fellows.  Members of the Worth Bagley Camp #6 formed a firing squad and played bugles.  Several members also served as pall bearers.  After his death the story of his courage during the Spanish American War became widely known, and he is honored and admired to this day.