Technical Sergeant Forrest Lee Vosler (U.S. Army Air Force) was honored at Saturday’s Syracuse University football game against Clemson. At every home game, the Syracuse University Athletics Department and the Office of Veteran and Military Affairs (OVMA) honor a “Hometown Hero” and their family, recognizing their service and sacrifice to our nation and the Central New York community.
Vosler was born on July 29, 1923, in Lyndonville, NY. After graduating from Livonia High School, he enlisted in the Army Air Force where he became a radio operator. Vosler was assigned to the 358th Bombardment Squadron, 303rd Bombardment Group, 8th Air Force, in England. He was a crewmember of a B-17 Flying Fortress called the “Jersey Bounce, Jr.”
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt awarded the Medal of Honor to Technical Sergeant Vosler in the Oval Office on August 31, 1944, for his actions over Bremen, Germany. Vosler was hit twice by 20 mm shrapnel after taking the place of one of the plane’s gunners. Despite many injuries to his legs, arms and eyes, he managed to tend to the wounded tail gunner, repair the damaged radio equipment, and send a distress signal before the aircraft crashed into the North Sea.
Vosler was discharged from the Army Air Force following numerous surgeries and extended stays in nine hospitals. He matriculated at Syracuse University in the spring of 1945. While at Syracuse, he met and married his wife, Virginia Slack, a Kappa Delta and a Liberal Arts graduate of the Class of 1945. They raised four children in Central New York; Stephen, Jeffrey, Sondra Fields-England, and Susan Snow Bass, Class of 1990.
Despite being named the Army Air Force’s “Greatest Hero” of World War II, Vosler’s combat injuries to his eyes made it difficult for him to study. He had trouble reading because he could only see shapes and shades, and required additional surgeries. He persisted for 17 years, dropping in and out of school, trying to earn the Syracuse University degree he so dearly wanted, but his injuries prevented him from completing a Syracuse University degree. Vosler passed away on February 17, 1992 with an “unseen” dream not fulfilled.
Technical Sergeant Forrest Vosler’s unseen dream became a reality 70 years later. On November 13th, 2015, Syracuse University awarded Forest L. Vosler an Associate’s Degree of Arts, thus making him a Syracuse University alumnus, Class of 2015!
Syracuse University’s Chancellor Kent Syverud, Vice Chancellor Mike Haynie, and Syracuse University great and NFL Hall of Famer Floyd Little honored Vosler by presenting his son Steve Vosler and his wife, Karen Vosler with the game ball.