Col. James Lee Foster

Col. James Lee Foster, USAF ret., of Glendale, Ariz., passed away Oct. 31, 2011, at age 80. He was born Jan. 10, 1931, in Marion, Ohio, to Ellen and Leroy Foster. Much of his childhood was spent on his grandparents’ farm in Mt. Gilead, Ohio.


In 1943 the family moved to Tucson, Ariz., where Jim graduated from Tucson High School. At age 20 he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and was accepted into the Aviation Cadets. In 1953 he graduated from pilot training as a Second Lieutenant, received his wings and achieved his boyhood dream of becoming a pilot. He was assigned to the 48th Fighter Wing in Chaumont, France, where he was selected to fly right wing on the elite Skyblazers acrobatic team.


In 1954 while on leave visiting his family in Albuquerque, N.M., he met Evelyn Renee Northrup. They continued to write to each other, and Jim proposed marriage. She flew to Chaumont and on Feb. 17, 1956, they were married. Here their daughter Kimberly was born. In 1957 Jim was transferred to Clovis, N.M., where their second daughter, Chris, was born.


Other assignments included Turkey, and then Luke AFB in Arizona. While stationed in Arizona, Jim flew the F-100 and was an instructor pilot, transitioned to the F-104 Starfighter and in 1967 served in Vietnam. He became a Squadron Commander and as an instructor pilot he trained German pilots at Luke on the F-104. In 1973 he was promoted to full Colonel and appointed as the USAF advisor to the ambassador in Bonn, Germany, and was stationed there until retiring to Glendale in 1975.


During his military service, Jim received the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Legion of Merit Awards. He is the designer of the Arizona State Vietnam Veteran's War Memorial located at the capitol building in Phoenix. His design was then used as a model for the National Women's Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. 

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