Foster Joseph Sayers was a Centre County native who was awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry at the loss of his own life during World War II. The Medal of Honor is the highest honor given by the United States military for valor in combat.
Sayers was born in Marsh Creek and grew up near Howard. He joined the Army after high school and married before enlisting. Sayers was a private first class in the U.S. Army and a member of Company L, 357th Infantry, 90th Infantry Division.
During an attack on German forces entrenched on a hilltop near Thionville, France, on November 12, 1944, he ran up the hill and set up his machine gun a short distance from the enemy. In order to attract the attention of the German forces, Sayers picked up the gun and charged the troops, killing twelve with close fire.
His remarkable bravery allowed his fellow soldiers to attain their objective in reaching the crest of the hill while killing or capturing the German soldiers on it. Sayers, who was 20 years old, died in the fighting.
The Medal of Honor citation said that his “indomitable fighting spirit, aggressiveness, and supreme devotion to duty live on as an example of the highest traditions of the military service.” He also received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
The remains of Sayers were returned home in 1949, and he was given a military funeral at the Old Schenck’s Cemetery. The construction of Bald Eagle State Park forced the relocation of the cemetery to its current location on Lower Green Runs Road.
The dam at the park, which opened in 1971, is named in honor of Sayers. His family donated his Medal of Honor to the Pennsylvania Military Museum in Boalsburg, and in a 1995 ceremony Gov. Tom Ridge accepted the medal from the grandchildren of Sayers. It was the first Medal of Honor bestowed on a Pennsylvanian to be placed in the care of the state. The medal can be seen at the museum’s World War II exhibit.
“Foster Joseph Sayers,” Congressional Medal of Honor Society. https://www.cmohs.org/recipients/foster-j-sayers (Accessed April 9, 2022).
Brueggebors, Barbara, “Honoring a Native Son.” Centre Daily Times, August 17, 1995.
First Published: May 6, 2022
Last Modified: June 7, 2022