Foley, John D., TSgt

 Service Photo   Service Details
View Time Line
Last Rank
Technical Sergeant
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
AAF MOS 611-Aerial Gunner
Last AFSC Group
Air Crew (Enlisted)
Primary Unit
1944-1945, 409th Bombardment Group, Light
Service Years
1941 - 1946
USAAFEnlisted Collar Insignia
Technical Sergeant

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SSgt Harry McCown (Mac) to remember Foley, John D. (Johnny Zero), TSgt.

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Contact Info
Home Town
Last Address
Banning, CA

Date of Passing
Dec 21, 1999
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
burial unknown

 Official Badges 

WW II Honorable Discharge Pin

 Unofficial Badges 

Air Ace

 Military Associations and Other Affiliations
Air Force Memorial (AFM)
  2015, Air Force Memorial (AFM) [Verified] - Assoc. Page

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Not Specified
Other Comments:

John D. Foley served in the United States Army Air Force during World War II. He was the inspiration of the popular 1943 song "Johnny Got a Zero".[1]

Foley enlisted in November 1941.[2] After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was assigned to a non-combat role with the 22nd Bomb Group stationed in Australia. His diligent cleaning of the machine guns of a B-26 Marauder caught the attention of the bomber's pilot, Lieutenant Walter Krell.[3] As the top turret gunner was injured, Foley became his replacement, despite having no aerial gunnery training.[1][2]

After a quick introduction to the equipment and procedures and one practice mission, Foley found himself on his first combat mission two days later, a raid against shipping near Rabaul on May 24, 1942.[3] He shot down an A6M Zero,[2] even though he had not even been taught how to use the gunsight.[3] Two weeks later, he was credited with two more over Lae.[2] International News Service war correspondent Pat Robinson wrote an article about him and dubbed him "Johnny Zero".[3]

The song "Johnny Got a Zero" was released as sheet music in 1943, lyrics by Mack David and music by Vee Lawnhurst, and topped out at #4 on the Variety list for the week of April 28.[4] An a capella rendition by the Song Spinners, "Johnny Zero", stayed on Billboard magazine's charts from June to August, peaking at #7.[4] In the song, Johnny does poorly in school, with the other children mocking him with "Johnny got a zero" every time he fails a test. However, when he grows up and becomes a fighter pilot, the words take on an entirely different meaning.[4]

Foley flew on 31 more missions in the Pacific War, sharing credit for at least six confirmed victories and surviving three crashes (in the second, he was the sole survivor).[1][2] After contracting malaria, he was sent back to the United States in 1943 to undertake a promotional tour and become a gunnery instructor.

He applied to fight in Europe, and flew another 31 missions with the 309th Bomber Squadron as a gunner in a B-24 Liberator in only 60 days.[1][5] He volunteered for a third tour of duty, but the war ended.


 Ribbon Bar

Aerial Gunner Badge

 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
22nd Bombardment Group, Medium5th Air Force93rd Bombardment Group, Medium8th Air Force
Bombardment Units
  1942-1943, AAF MOS 611, 22nd Bombardment Group, Medium
  1942-1943, 5th Air Force
  1943-1945, AAF MOS 611, 93rd Bombardment Group, Medium
  1944-1945, 8th Air Force
  1944-1945, 409th Bombardment Group, Light
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1941-1945 World War II/Asian-Pacific Theater
  1943-1943 World War II/Asian-Pacific Theater/Central Pacific Campaign (1941-43)
  1944-1944 World War II/European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Rhineland Campaign (1944-45)
  1945-1945 World War II/European-African-Middle Eastern Theater/Central Europe Campaign (1945)
 My Aircraft/Missiles
B-26 Marauder  B-24 Liberator  
  1942-1943, B-26 Marauder
  1944-1945, B-24 Liberator
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