William Carlyle Foster – “Family Hero”

“Time certainly changes the complexion of things very quickly – - it seems but a few months ago that Billy was only a little boy in knee-pants when I made some of my first visits to Philadelphia.  He is grown up now; his development has been fast; he has grown beyond the stage of a hero among the kids – - he is now a hero among the people of a free America!”

1st Lieutenant William C. Foster

These were the words written by Carl Sorby about 1st Lieutenant William C. Foster by letter dated December 7, 1943, to his friend and colleague William J. Foster, a/k/a Pop, father of Bill.  Better words could not be chosen to describe Bill Foster, my father-in-law.  I met Mr. Foster during the summer of 1976, shortly after being introduced to my wife Julia, by my good friend Dave Heary.  Julia was like no woman (girl) I had ever met – in so many wonderful ways.  But this is not about Julia – it’s about her father and by definition her mother (Bunch) as well.  From day one, it was obvious Bill was a special person, a good person, someone to look up to.  He is far more than a sports hero or a war hero – - he is truly a family hero.

The words spoken by Carl Sorby were in admiration for a young man who had flown 54 missions as a B-17 and B-24 bombardier, primarily over Guadalcanal, forcing the Japanese from the region.  He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with two Oak Leaf Clusters and the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters.

But the story begins long before the campaign on Guadalcanal.  It began with that infamous day of December 7, 1941, and the Japanese attack upon Pearl Harbor.  Bill, a college student and football player for Lehigh University had transferred to Villanova University at the time of the attack. Within days of hearing the radio transmission of the stunning news which electrified the nation, he advised his parents he had decided to defer his college education to enlist in the United States Army Air Forces.  His enlistment was not for fame or even for recognition, but because he felt it “the right thing to do”.  And so it was that he, along with hundreds of other young men, deferred college; postponed or accelerated marriage; or otherwise changed best laid plans to March to War.  Tom Brokaw, in his book, THE GREATEST GENERATION, states,

“The young Americans of this time constituted a generation birthmarked for greatness…It is a generation of towering achievement and

Villanova Yearbook 1948

modest demeanor, a legacy of their formative years when they were participants in and witness to sacrifices of the highest order.  They know how many of the best of their generation didn’t make it to their early twenties, how many brilliant scientists, teachers, spiritual and business leaders, politicians and artists, were lost in the ravages of the greatest war the world has seen”.

Having made his decision, Bill’s first assignment was Maxwell Field in Montgomery, Alabama, where he began pilot training.  Prior to being selected, he underwent rigorous physical and mental testing and was one of only two men chosen from over 100 candidates from Philadelphia.  He continued pilot training in Georgia before being deployed back to Alabama to await admission to the Aerial Bombardier Program at the Midland Army Flying School at Midland, Texas.  On July 2, 1942, Aviation Cadet Foster received his wings as a Bombardier and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army Air Forces.

In correspondence from Brigadier General Isaiah Davis, Commander at Midland, he advised Bill’s parents,

“I want to take this opportunity to tell you that you have every reason to be proud of your son’s record at Midland Army Flying School, the world’s largest Bombardier College.

I would like to emphasize, too, that this is far more than a routine graduation.  For one thing, it means that your son has lived up to the promise he showed when he classified for Bombardier training.  You may be interested to know that only about 15 percent of the Aviation Cadets applying for aircrew training can meet the very exacting  requirements of the Bombardier course – - and not all of those classified complete the course.

Lt. William C. Foster – Bombardier

The position of the Bombardier in modern aerial strategy is one of unique and prime importance.  A Bombardier Officer must possess the utmost in mental and physical alertness, moral courage and complete trustworthiness.  Your son’s instructors tell me that he measures up to these qualifications.  That is why we have entrusted to him the secret of the famous United States bombsight, one of the world’s most valuable military weapons.

That is why we are graduating him and looking to him and his classmates to help us deliver the knock-out punch to the enemy.”

After graduating from Advanced Flying School, Bill was sent to Hendricks Field, Florida, where he received a diploma from the Army Air Forces Combat Crew School on August 14, 1942.  His B-17 crew was then assigned to submarine patrol off the coast of Florida in search of one and two man occupied Nazi submarines.  Interestingly enough, although Bill was not responsible for sinking any of the enemy subs, he did have a direct hit on a whale – - oops!

War Heroes Recognized for Valiant Deeds – May 1944

In anticipation of eventual deployment outside of the United States, he continued training missions in Colorado, Utah, and Cuba.  In December 1942, his B-24 crew left the

States for Guadalcanal and the neighboring islands in the Pacific Theater.  It was the first major offensive by allied forces against the Empire of Japan.  By February 1943, in the face of the allied offensive, the Japanese conceded Henderson Field, as well as Guadalcanal and the surrounding islands.  The Guadalcanal campaign was a significant strategic victory marking the transition by the allies from defensive operations to offensive operations including the Solomon Islands, New Guinea, and

Bombardier operating the Norden Bombsite from the bottom of the B-24 plane

the Central Pacific.  The campaign resulted in Japan’s eventual surrender and the end of World War II.  Bill and his crew flew 54 missions during the Pacific campaign over approximately 18 months.  Most notably, Bill and his crew were responsible for dropping the first bombs on Guadalcanal from their B-24 bomber nicknamed “The Eager Beaver”.  The crew was rewarded with well-earned rest and relaxation in Auckland, New Zealand.

In May of 1944, Bill was one of ten War Heros to receive awards for Valiant Deeds.  In a ceremony at Chatham Field in Savannah, Georgia, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and one Oak Leaf Cluster by Colonel Robert T. Coronau, Commanding Officer.  He was specifically cited for his accomplishments which included 30 bomber strike sorties during the month of September 1943 alone.

Upon his return to the States and assignment to Chatham Field, Bill played football for the Chatham Field Blockbusters.  In a game played on October 26, 1944, against the University of Pittsburgh football team, the Savannah Evening Press had this to say,

Chatam Field Army “Blockbusters”

“Take your field glasses with you.  Focus them on No. 80, a squat young man who will be playing one of the guard positions.  He is Lt. Bill Foster, who is at home in both B17’s and B24’s, and if the going gets a trifle rugged in the neighborhood of his sector of the scrimmage line, I doubt if the Lieutenant will shiver in his shoes.  You see, he is lately back from 54 missions in the South Pacific.  He has the Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross, with clusters.  Lt. Foster has been up to his neck in a game in which the opponents recover all the fumbles.”

On July 2, 1945, Bill was commissioned a First Lieutenant, Air Corps.  Upon the conclusion of the war, he remained a commissioned officer until the time of his discharge and return to home in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia.

On Thursday, August 16, 2012, some 70 years after enlisting to fight a former painter who had seized control of the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nazis) and the Imperialist Japanese Empire, our FAMILY HERO was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal with Silver Oak Leaf Cluster.  It was an honor to be present and witness my father-in-law receiving the recognition he so earned.

Lt. Bill Foster with Family and Friends – August 16, 2012

The medal ceremony was sponsored by the NJ Department of Military Affairs and the medal was awarded in recognition of Bill’s combat service.  He also received Gubernatorial and Special Congressional Citations of Recognition.  Fittingly, the ceremony was held at the Naval Air Station Wildwood, and was presided over by NJ State Senator, Jeff Van Drew, Assemblymen Nelson Albano and Matt Milam, and various military dignitaries.  The ceremony took place in historic Hangar 1, honoring 30 war veterans including 7 from World War II.  Bill was the most senior officer of those honored.

Lt. Bill Foster Receiving his Medal – August 16, 2012

NAS WILDWOOD was a WWII dive bomber training center for aviators.  Forty-two airmen perished during training between 1943 and 1945 as the result of 129 crashes.  October 1944 saw peak activity at NASW with 16,994 take-offs and landings in a single month.  Hangar 1 is now an aviation museum containing 26 aircraft displays, as well as exhibits of military memorabilia in honor of the 42 airmen who were killed during training.  The ceremony took place on a beautiful sunny day in Wildwood with Bill’s wife Bunch (64 years married) at his side, along with his two brothers Bob and Joe, sister-in-law Mary, son Bill, and various nieces, nephews, in-laws, friends and other family members.

Bill and Bunch

Bill is a graduate of LaSalle  High School, Class of 1938, and also attended Pennington Prep in 1939 before entering Lehigh University.  After the war, he returned to Villanova University and graduated in 1948 with an engineering degree.

Bill, now 92 years young, has completed five consecutive senior triathlons and can be found exercising daily at the Ocean City Aquatic Center where he can be heard leading a group of aquacisers in his vocal salute to America……

Off we go_____in-to the wild blue yon – der,
climb-ing high____ in-to the sun.___________
Here they come,____zoom-ing to meet our thun-der,
at ‘em boys,______ give ‘er the gun! (Give ‘er the gun now!)

Down we dive,____ spout-ing our flame from un-der,
off with one____ hell-uv-a roar!
We live____ in fame_____or go down_____in flame.
Shout! Noth-ing-’ll stop the Ar-my Air Corps!___

Minds of men_____fash-ioned a crate of thun-der,
sent it high_____in-to the blue._____________
Hands of men______blast-ed the world a – sun – der;
how they lived______God on-ly knew! (God on-ly knew them!)

Souls of men____ dream-ing of skies to con-quer
gave us wings,______ev-er to soar!___________
With scouts____ be-fore____and bomb – ers ga-lore,
Shout! Noth-ing-’ll stop the Ar-my Air Corps!___

Off we go_____in-to the wild sky yon-der,
keep the wings___lev-el and true.____________
If you’d live_____to be a gray – haired won – der
keep the nose_____out of the blue! (Out of the blue, boy!)

Fly-ing men, guard-ing the na-tions bor-der,
we’ll be there,______fol-lowed by more!______
In ech-e-lon ______ we car – ry one.
Shout! Noth-ing-’ll stop the Ar-my Air Corps!___

And nothing will stop Bill Foster.  So Proud, so Pure.  Your family and country love and salute you!  Thank you for your courageous service.

Check out the slideshow below with photos of Bill Foster past and present;

 

Established 1984

Stampone Law – Established 1984

It seems like only yesterday, my first legal employer was giving me two weeks notice from his executive suite on the 7th Floor of Two Penn Center.   Tony Baloney, aside from being a high level executive and department head in the Rizzo Administration, was also a very successful personal injury attorney.  He was bright, good looking, always impeccably dressed, and could be exceptionally generous….. as long as it served his purpose.  I was hired in 1982 shortly after graduating from law school and while employed as a law clerk for the Honorable Albert F. Sabo in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.  Being hired by Tony, while clerking for Judge Sabo, was the best thing that could have happened to me fresh out of law school.  He threw me to the wolves and I quickly learned how to handle a personal injury matter from new client signup to trial.  Since Tony spent the majority of his day at his City office, I had to do it all – - and we made money, lots of money.  We were a great tandem, clicking on all cylinders.  Monogramed shirts, Jaguars, Ferraris, and a cigarette boat named “No Fault”.  Life was good, especially for Tony.

Then it happened…he was viciously attacked by an angry client outside our Center City Office and he suffered a traumatic brain injury

Drew & Joe – 1986

rendering him comatose and disabling him for the better part of a year.  What now?  I wasn’t prepared to run the office without a mentor.  Enter Drew D’Angelo, Tony’s longtime associate from the City Solicitor’s Office.  Drew was an experienced trial lawyer who stepped up to the plate and he and I kept the firm afloat all the while visiting Tony on a daily basis in hopes he would recover and

return to the practice.  No easy task for a fledgling second year lawyer and a guy who did not want to talk to the clients, let alone meet with them.  But somehow Drew and I pulled it off.  The firm continued to prosper and Tony recovered, or so we thought.  But something wasn’t right; it wasn’t the same Tony.  Fast forward six months or so and I receive a call falsely accusing Drew and I of inappropriate activity and instructing me I have two weeks to “get out”.  Some thank you.  Always the fearless optimist, I respond without thinking, “I’ll be out in two hours”. First phone call, “Julia, put the kids in the Volvo and meet me at the office.  I’ll explain later.”  Second call, “Curt, it’s Cuz, need you to meet me at the office in the Datsun B210, have to haul some files.”  Julia and Curt, now that’s two people you want with you in a foxhole.  And so it was, within an hour, I was loading my books, documents, personal belongings, and my nine client files into the baby blue DL Wagon and the grass green hatchback (which Julia and I sold to Curt) and headed for an unknown destination to set up shop.

As always, I met my two hour self-imposed deadline…and Tony knew I would.  He just lost an employee who was never late and who was timely in every aspect of his young career.  Just one of the traits that made us tick.  There was no exchange of pleasantries on the way out the door – - unless you consider Curt’s threat to whack him with a staple gun a pleasant goodbye.

Dad Working on the Store

What a great business plan.  Two kids under the age of 4, a mortgage, a car payment, little to no bank account, no health insurance, no office, no secretary, not even a typewriter, remember those?  But I had a secret weapon.  Something stronger than kryptonite and it came in the form of friends and family.  Could there be a more powerful business asset to build upon?

So I put my unplanned plan into action and called the old man.  “Yo Dad, I need you to transform the store into an office.”  The store was a dilapidated building next to my childhood home where my parents and grandmother still lived and which had been vacant for many years.  That childhood home was the same house my mother was born and raised in.  In fact, it was in my mother’s family (the Kramer Family) for over 100 years.  The “store” had served as a gas station, variety store, cabinet maker’s shop, and as various other businesses over the years including Joey and Freddy’s Kool-Aid stand. Come to think of it, it probably qualifies as our first restaurant.  And now it was going to be a one-room law office in the middle of a residential city block in Northeast Philly.  No waiting

The Store

room, no bathroom (you had to go next door and see my parents and grandmother if you needed to relieve yourself), no secretarial area, no conference room.  Just a room with a desk and a couple of chairs for the clients I did not yet have.  By the way, if you did have to use the bathroom, good luck getting out without a shot of homemade anisette and my father playing the Notre Dame Fight song on his harmonica.  But Dad was excited and built the best one-room law office on Jackson Street with the help of Uncle Al, a union electrician, and my incredibly supportive mother who would carry sheetrock, spot nails, and roll paint if that’s what it took to help her kids.  Joan get this; Joan get that, still music to my ears.  Tom Dempsey, a/k/a “Marvin”, a Moss Playground legend, installed the carpet and Pep Boys donated the 30-year old executive desk complete with broken chair complements of my brother Fred.  But the shingle quickly went up and the Stampone firm was established.

My secret weapon worked, before long friends and family began to refer clients from all over the neighborhood.  I was the busiest attorney in a two square block area.  Nothing but big cases – - like the fly in the water-ice case, and the guy who ran into a street sign

Stampone & D’Angelo in front of the Township Line Office

while being chased by a bee.  I was on the map.  As the word spread, my client base grew.  Before long, they were lined up in my waiting area “on the curb” out front.  I knew then I was doing something right.  These new found clients were just like my family and friends, salt of the earth.  Hard working blue collar people.  Construction workers, factory workers, cops and firemen alike.  They went to schools like North, Judge, Frankford, and Lincoln, and they grew up hanging in the playground.  They were guys with nicknames like Hog, Bird, Killer, and Quack, just to name a few.  They summered in Wildwood, fondly referred to as the Kensington Riviera by my childhood friend, John Hagan.  The clients were just like me without the law degree.  I talked to them in a language they understood and I returned their calls…always return their calls…put it on my tombstone!

The practice grew, our family grew, and before long, I needed a partner.  Drew D’Angelo, smart (President of his Class at George Washington High), confident, tough neighborhood kid with a golden tongue.  He knew how to settle cases and knew how to take them to trial.  As long as he didn’t have to speak with the clients, he was happy to make money.  A new tandem was born, Stampone & D’Angelo.

With our growing practice, we moved into offices on Township Line Road just past Burholme Park in 1986 and remained in the same

Stampone Law Today

location for 18 years until moving into our current office in 2004.  Now known as Stampone Law, the firm has matured and grown over the years, and our office is a modern, efficient, and prosperous place of business.  A wonderful mix of experienced litigators and youthful energy.

And although associates, attorneys, and staff have come and gone over the past 28 years, there remains a constant in this most unplanned business plan…..YOU, friends and family of my friends and family…..and ME, always one of YOU.

Call me, I promise I’ll return your call.  R.I.P.

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it” – Yogi Berra

Congratulations to my nephew Kevin O’Brien on his graduation from Widener University School of Law and passing the Pennsylvania and New Jersey bar exams. Kevin has proven to be an extraordinary asset in recent years at Stampone law and is on his way to becoming an accomplished litigator. Now it’s my son Danny’s turn. Read how he went from a Catholic University graduate with uncertain direction to being on the path he is today.

- Joe Stampone

Now what?

My cousin Kevin O’Brien recently graduated from Widener University School of Law and I could not be happier for him.  Kevin was born to be an attorney; he is equipped with the passion, professionalism, and the know-how (not to mention the wardrobe) to be a successful attorney.  While I am certainly envious he has scaled the mountain I have yet to begin, he has left in his wake a trail for me to follow.  I began working at Stampone Law this past September and already Kevin has been a great mentor.  But I am getting ahead of myself.  Let’s backtrack to May of 2011, the month I graduated from Catholic University in Washington DC.  Like many of my peers, I walked off campus diploma in hand, ready to tackle the world, and began to think; what now?

I had always been encouraged by friends, family and faculty alike that I should make a living doing what I truly love.  Although rudimentary in nature, this idea was difficult for me to grasp.  What am I passionate about?  Well, I love dogs, but only those over 30 lbs (If I can kick it across a room it might as well be a cat).   I love to eat, but after working in various positions within the restaurant business for four summers I learned it was not for me.  My brother Pete, now he belongs in the biz (Pete Stampone, remember that name Philadelphia foodies – currently Assistant GM at Assaggio del Forno in Boca Raton FL).

My last stint in the restaurant business was at Juan Pablo’s Margarita Bar in Wildwood, New Jersey.  It was one lonely night there when I came to the realization I needed to explore a little bit.  No, I don’t mean backpacking across Europe to find myself.  I needed to get out there and experience various career paths in order to truly find where my interests lay as I had with the restaurant business.   For inspiration and guidance I looked to my family, specifically my father and my uncle, Dave O’Brien.

I had by every stretch of the imagination a tremendous childhood.  Many factors went into that but it always boiled down to one thing,

Capo and I at the Crooked Palm

opportunity created by my father.  My father was able to provide for myself and my siblings more than I could have ever asked for; Provide a great home in a nice neighborhood, a great education and even a vacation house in Wildwood Crest.  Despite all that, his most important contribution undoubtedly was his time and support.  My athletic career, cut short by a serious knee injury, was always a top priority of dad’s.  He attended nearly every soccer, basketball, and baseball game I ever played (not to mention every one of my four siblings games too). I think he enjoyed the outdoor sports where he was able to smoke a Montecristo No.2 with Capo, our Doberman.  He never brought orange slices for halftime and didn’t enjoy conversing with the team mom, but hey, I didn’t care.  He was there for me and I could not be more grateful.

In addition to my father I could always count on my Uncle for support.  The O’Brien’s moved to Philadelphia from California where Uncle Dave was the athletic director (AD) at Long Beach State.  The move was sparked by an offer to become the AD at Temple University.  From that day forward, the Stampone’s became die hard Temple basketball fans.  Pepe Sanchez, Quincy Wadley and Kevin Lyde became household names.  We attended every game we could and sat courtside, thanks to Uncle Dave.  Stampone Law even became a proud sponsor of the Owls.  I will never forget thinking how cool my uncle’s job was.  You get to hang out with John Chaney and watch basketball for a living!  That’s something I would be interested in.

If you were to visit my elementary school yearbook you will see that 5th grade Dan Stampone wanted to be a professional soccer player and noted “attorney” as a fallback occupation.  While I have never attended the open tryouts annually held by the Philadelphia Union, I did see a career in collegiate athletics as a possibility.

Labor Day came as quick as usual this past year and I needed a job.  Interest in pursuing a career in law had always been in the back of my mind.  What kid doesn’t want to follow in their dad’s footsteps?  So I decided to go to work for my dad.  Fortunately for me, at that time I did not have enough experience to be working fulltime.  I needed to round out my week somehow and what better way to do so than athletics, another potential career path.  Through the help of my Uncle I landed a job with the Philadelphia Big 5.  For those of you who don’t know of the Big 5, it’s an athletic association formed in 1954 primarily focused around basketball, consisting of 5 prestigious Philadelphia universities: La Salle, Temple, Villanova, St. Joe’s and Penn.

Class of 2015

On a daily basis I was communicating with the Sports Information Directors from these universities as well as our sponsors. Among my duties was to select the men’s and women’s Big 5 Basketball Player of the Week.  Furthermore, I was involved in game-day coverage and drafting recaps of the games for the Big 5 website as well as helping coordinate special events such as the Big 5 Golf Outing and the Hall of Fame Banquet.  I was hired by Brett Burchette, the Director of the Big 5 and a professor in the School of Technology and Professional Studies at Drexel University.

Brett is a well traveled man who has worked in several athletic programs throughout the country.  Brett’s well-rounded experience in the athletic sector made him well qualified to give me insight concerning my career choices.  Based on my interests, Brett suggested I apply for a position at several sports management firms.  I walked out of each interview with a smile on my face thinking I would be selected for the job.  I knew I was qualified, interviewed well and had the right people in my corner supporting me. However I didn’t receive any of the job offers.  Brett did some investigating and discovered that unknowingly in every interview I mentioned I wanted one day to attend law school.  It was not until that moment I truly realized what I had been hoping to do by exploring my options.  I wanted to become a lawyer.

I start school this coming August at Widener University School of Law and embark on what is sure to be a grueling process.  I will be working at Stampone Law by day and going to school by night, just like my cousin Kevin has done for the previous 4 years.  I am so grateful to be able to gain the experience of working in a law firm while attending school and what better resources to have than Kevin and the rest of the team at Stampone Law.  While I plan on making Stampone Law my place of business for many years to come, I am not ready to discount the possibility of combining my passions for law and athletics…I’ll eat and walk Capo in my spare time.