MONTICELLO, Ark. -- An Arkansan believed to be the first American killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor is honored today in his hometown. The community he left behind says his sacrifice is one that will never be forgotten.
Rodney Shelton Foss was born on May 8, 1919 in Monticello.
He later moved to Pine Bluff and became a Razorback at the University of Arkansas, but it's not this hometown hero's love for the Natural State that is getting him attention today. It's his love for our country.
People in Monticello took time to honor Foss for his service.
"Veterans of the United States will always honor those who come forth to the defense of our nation."
"They are the true guardians of freedom and equality among Americans."
Foss was a commissioned officer for the U.S. Navy when he was stationed at the Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii base.
He was the graveyard shift duty officer. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, he was hit and killed instantly by a cannon shell during the first round of attacks, making it highly probable that he was the first U.S. casualty in World War II. When the Sunday duty officer showed up at the hangar to relieve Foss, he found him dead.
His body was returned to Monticello and buried in Oakland Cemetery.
"In my mind he was always a great American hero."
Today, Drew County Judge Robert Akin dedicated a park in the Arkansas hero's honor.
"On this day the 29th of May of 2017, me acting as the Drew County Judge, has requested a court order be written to recognize the May Park located north of the courthouse and next to the detention center from this day forward be named the Rodney Shelton Foss Memorial Park," Akin announced.
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