Mayhew "Bo" Foster, a World War II Army pilot who transported the one-time heir to Adolf Hitler for interrogation in an unarmed, unescorted plane, has died. He was 99.
Foster died Monday night in a Missoula nursing home, son-in-law Roy Korkalo said Tuesday. A cause of death was not immediately given.
Foster served as brigadier general of the Montana National Guard, was awarded the Silver Star for valor as an artillery air officer and received the French Legion of Honor for his service in World War II.
But his mission flying Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering was the highlight of his military career. The head of Nazi Germany's Luftwaffe had surrendered when the war ended in Europe in 1945, and Foster flew him from Kitzbuhel, Austria, to 7th Army headquarters in Germany for interrogation before turning him over to stand trial at Nuremberg.
Goering weighed more than 300 pounds, and Foster told The Associated Press in January he had to take a larger plane than he normally used for reconnaissance missions.
"I had the impulse to turn the plane over and see if I could shake him out but he was wedged in like a champagne cork," Foster told his wife, Virginia Lou Foster, in a letter written soon after the mission.
Foster said Goering was relaxed during the 55-minute flight, avoiding any talk of Hitler or the war and instead pointed out the sites below them.
"He acted as though he was going on a sightseeing tour, or really as though as I was going on a sightseeing tour and he was showing me where he grew up," Foster told the AP.
Goering was found guilty of war crimes at Nuremberg, but killed himself by swallowing a cyanide capsule before a hanging sentence could be carried out.
Foster returned to the U.S. in October 1945, having flown 70 reconnaissance combat missions. He was awarded the Silver Star after spending five hours taking fire above the battlefield when the 36th Division made an amphibious assault landing in southern France in 1944.
He returned to Montana and was appointed lieutenant colonel in the Montana National Guard, then was promoted to brigadier general of the Guard, a rank he held from 1963 until 1971.
Foster was awarded the French Legion of Honor in 2009 for his "personal, precious contribution to the United States' decisive role in the liberation of our country during World War II," according to a letter from French Ambassador Pierre Vimont.
Foster was born Oct. 9, 1911, in Richmond, Va., and graduated from Yale University in 1937 with an English degree. He married his wife Virginia in 1940 and they had a daughter, Susan, who died in 2007.
Foster is survived by his son-in-law, Korkalo, his grandson, Chris Korkalo, and his sister, Priscilla Howell.
Funeral arrangements are pending.