AMERICA — World War II veteran Lieutenant Col. Folsom is celebrating his 100th birthday on Friday, July 24, and a featured documentary about his life will be released on Veterans Day. Along with being a World War II veteran, he is also one of the last living World War II Marine Corps Pilots.
Samuel B. Folsom was born on July 24, 1920 in Quincy, Massachusetts and was one of the first 17 Marine fighter pilots with the Marine Fighter Squadron. He had been training for a flight program in Jacksonville, Florida at the same time Pearl Harbor was attacked, motivating him to finish training as fast as he could to join the force. He completed his training in 1942 and flew to Miramar, California to check into his unit VMF-122. Arriving on the island on October 8, he fought his initial battles at Guadalcanal.
“I closed in on two Japanese bombers, one of which was directly in my sights, and I shot him down,” Folsom stated. “I pulled over to the side, and I shot down the other one. It was just like a training exercise.”
He spent a total of three months in Guadalcanal and transferred to Samoa immediately after. Locations of his service aside from Guadalcanal included Korea, Japan, Norway, United States, Okinawa Island, and Marshall Islands. He received numerous awards including Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart for his bravery at Guadalcanal. He shot down two Japanese Betty Bombers and one Japanese fighter plane. He continued his career in the Marine Corps for 18 years and retired in 1960 as a lieutenant colonel to take an executive position at Pan American World Airways in New York.
As one of the few remaining World War II veterans still alive, his story captured the attention of TV producer Steve Barber who is currently working on a documentary regarding Folsom’s 18-year career. The filmmaker received footages from the senior center in Sherman Oaks where he is still residing with his wife of 69 years. The documentary will be set to release on November 11, Veterans Day.