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This article was contributed by Cathy Moreth Sims

The Sheboygan Press - Tuesday, August 15, 1944

Hero's In The Service

Among the list of enlistees in the U.S. Navy issued by the Milwaukee recruiting office on Aug. 5, are the names of two Sheboygan boys, they are: John E. Fochs, 921 Georgia Avenue, Sheboygan and Donald V. Starich, 928 Georgia Avenue, Sheboygan.

The Sheboygan Press - Friday, April 20, 1945

Hero's In The Service

Great Lakes Illinois --- Recent graduation ceremonies at the Naval Training school (radio) on the campus of the University of Wisconsin qualified Bluejacket John E. Fochs, 18, son of Mr. and Mrs. Elmer J. Fochs, 921 Georgia Avenue, Sheboygan as a radio operator with the fleet.

John E. Fochs


Number of Source Citations:1

United States. Department of State: The Biographic Register, July, 1974.
Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office, 1974. [USBiR]

Source Citation: Biography and Genealogy Master Index. Farmington Hills,
Mich.: Gale Group, 1980-2001.

Article from The Sheboygan Press - Tuesday, April 30,1957

John Fochs, In State Department Duty, Finds Far East to Liking by Charles J. Kelley of the Press Staff

The ordinary Sheboygan young man would hardly have a working acquaintance with such places as Tokyo, Pusan, Seoul, Singapore, Saigon, Kuala Lumpur, Denpasar and Phnom Penh.

But then the 30-year old John E. Fochs is no ordinary fellow, what with his career as a civilian employee of the U.S. State Department in Southeast Asia.

In fact, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Fochs, 1443 S. 21st St. can rattle off such aforementioned names as Kuala Lumpuf (Malaya) and Phnom Penh (Cambodia) at an equal fluency with Manitowoc, Waukesha or...Klamazoo.

To put it briefly, this Sheboygan man - now home on leave between Far East duty changes - "has been around" in his job as a communications worker for American consulate generals in several of the "powder kegs" "of this restless world.

Returning in June - Relieved of his duty with the U.S. consulate general at Singapore the past March 13, he will leave Sheboygan early in June for his new communications assignment (two years) at Phnom Penh, capital city of Cambodia, Indochina.

And John comes by his traveling tendency quite naturally. His dad, a rural mail carrier, spent two years in Europe as a Navy yeoman during World War I, while Mrs. Fochs, a Navy nurse during the second world conflict, is currently on an active duty tour aboard a Navy ship in the Mediterranean area. She is a lieutenant in the Navy Nurse Corps Reserve, affiliated with the Sheboygan surface division.

The world career of the younger Fochs - a 1944 Central High graduate and still single - had its beginning with a two-year Navy "hitch" as a radioman during the World War II years of 1944-45 and part of 1946. He returned home, but was recalled to active duty in mid-1950 during the Korean outbreak. In fact, John and his father were recalled to duty together at the Great Lakes (IL) Naval Training Center.

Eventually John was assigned to Commander Naval Forces Far East (then Admiral Joy) In Tokyo where he did communications work from September 1950, until receiving his honorable discharge from service there in August 1951.

But he didn't come home. Rather, as a civilian, he went to work for the U.S. Army in Tokyo, being assigned to the coding and decoding of messages at the headquarters of Gen. MacArthur in the Dai Ichi Building.

May Day Riots - Fochs still recalls with something of a shudder the violent May Day riots of 1952 when Communist-inspired Japanese mobs fought bloody battles with Tokyo police in downtown streets and parks of the city. He drove his own car through a fringe of the riots, later watching the conflict from the comparative safety of his hotel roof.

John remained with the Army until October, 1952, then switched to the State department after the necessary exams had put him in a permanent Civil Service status.

That same month he was on his way to the war-torn Korean port of Pusan, continuing communications duty at the American Embassy there.

With the state of the Korean War then a stalemate, he came to a Pusan that was loaded with South Korean refugees who had come down from the north.

"In their extreme poverty they lived in wooden crates and any sort of squalid shack" Fochs recalls, "Many of them rolled out empty beer cans fashioning them into metal sheets with which to line their 'homes' against the cold."

In June, 1953, he was transferred north to Seoul. Here in the thoroughly shot up South Korean capital Fochs set up communications facilities for the American ambassador, later working for U.S. officials engaged in armistice talks with the North Koreans and Chinese Reds. At one time he was assigned to accompany U.S. officials on a journey to the 38th parallel for talks with the North Koreans.

He remained on his job at Seoul for a year and a half until November, 1954, when he was assigned new duty with the U.S. consulate general at Singapore. A visit home was possible, however, before reporting for his new Singapore duty at the extreme southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, in February, 1955.

Fond of Singapore - A chat with this Sheboygan young man gives the impression that he has been quite fond of his duty in this Southeast Asian metropolis of some 1, 165,000 Chinese, Ceylonese, Indians, Eurasians and representatives of almost every other Asiatic nation. About 80 per cent are Chinese, however.

Then too, there are many English government officials and workers in this now separate (from the Straits Settlements) British Crown Colony. The island, 27 miles long and 14 miles wide, has a colonial governor and Legislative Assembly, which has broad powers under a new constitution effective Feb. 8, 1955. It is felt that complete self-government is just around the corner.

The surging Japanese Army, it will be recalled captured the city and heavily fortified British naval base there in February, 1942, after sweeping down through the thick, black forest of Malaya.

While he is ready to admit that the hot, humid weather that is typical of Singapore, (80 degrees is the mean temperature for the year) is less comfortable than the pleasant spring breezes that are currently caressing his Sheboygan home, John speaks well enough of life for an American in Singapore.

Rooming in and taking the majority of his meals in a boarding house operated by an Italian couple, he enjoyed frequent bowling matches and other recreation at the privately operated American Club.

"Incidentally, the four alleys in the American Club were the only bowling lanes in all of Singapore," he says. "But we had plenty of opportunity to golf on courses throughout the island and to swim." U. S. Consulate teams on which he played won softball and bowling championships during the past year, he proudly adds.

Trip to Bali - The local "world tourist" also had the opportunity for several side trips while stationed in Singapore. One, over an Easter week end, was a 500 mile drive down the West coast of the Malay Peninsula with a friend who was competing with his sports car in an economy run sponsored by an American oil company.

The past February he flew to the City of Denpasar on the Island of Bali, to the southeast of Singapore between the Indian Ocean and Java Sea. While he termed most of the "romantic" reports about Bali as figments of the imagination - at least in this day and age - he did enjoy the flight over Sumatra, Java and the thousands of other islands of that far off tropical corner of the globe.

His most precarious duty, perhaps, came between April and June, 1955, when he was sent on temporary duty up to Saigon, capital city of strife-ridden South Vietnam. It was during John's stay in Saigon that the fierce fighting took place in which the government forces of President Ngo Dinh Diem cleaned out the evils of vice and gambling fostered by the notorious Bink Xuyen.

It was here in Saigon that he heard first hand reports of the terror and oppression going on today in Communist-held North Vietnam. Thousands who fled the Russian-Chinese Communist orbit have found refuge in Saigon and other areas to the south which have remained free of Red rule.

Returning to Singapore, Fochs witnessed the October, 1956 rioting between Communist inspired student mobs and government forces that went on for a week. Like in Tokyo, however, he managed only to watch the street fighting from a safe distance.

Visit to Rome - Leaving Singapore the past March 13, he flew westward across India and enjoyed a 9-day stopover in Rome. He took a Mediterranean and Atlantic Ocean voyage home.

And now, come June 8 Sheboygan's unofficial "ambassador" to the Far East, will be off for Phnom Penh and his new duties in this Cambodian city of 375,000. Another refuge center for persons fleeing the Communism of North Vietnam, Cambodia was a part of French Indo-China up to the time of its division, along with Laos and Vietnam, into independent states.

Phnom Penh may well turn out to be the most rugged duty of John's career to date, what with the current unrest in that sector. Considered a "hardship post" in the State department, he will receive an additional 25 per cent pay there, partly because of the less desirable living conditions he is certain to be faced with.

Certainly, the heat and humidity of Cambodia in all probability will be less desirable than Sheboygan's air conditioned breezes off Lake Michigan. But John, apparently enthused with it all, keeps going back for more.

The Sheboygan Press, Wednesday, June 05, 1957

John E. Fochs who has been visiting in Wisconsin since April 12 left Monday for Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where he will start his new duties as a civilian employee of the Department of State, U.S. Government. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Elmer J. Fochs accompanied him to Mitchell Airport, Milwaukee. He also spent some time in Janesville with his brother-in-law and sister, Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Leach, and family.

Report from John E. Fochs

The Sheboygan Press, Wednesday, January 24, 1962

Life Behind The Iron Curtain" It's Grim, Depressing And Harassing - By Charles J. Kelley - Press Staff Writer

While one does not necessarily return from two years behind the Soviet Iron curtain "loaded" with first hand information that might describe the innermost feeling of those behind "the wall", a former Sheboygan man is certain of one thing.

Life today in Moscow and Budapest, for instance, is depressing at best.

This is the word of John E. Fochs, a U. S. State Department communications employee and his attractive wife, Lillian, who this week are ending a month-long visit here with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Elmer Fochs, 1443 S. 21st St.

"It is difficult", Fochs said, "for us Americans, even though we've worked and lived in Budapest, to say accurately and truthfully how the man-in-the-street in Communist-ruled Central Europe really reacts to his subjugated lot in life."

Little Close Contact

Although it is obvious that the quest for free continues in their minds (not withstanding the ill-fated freedom fight of 1956), the local man pointed out that people of Hungary continue to exist - although far from western style - under the yoke of Russian directed communism.

Fochs and his wife, herself a widely traveled State Department secretarial worker whom he married in Munich last April, do not take too seriously the "man-to-man" talks between American writers and the rank and file Russians, or others in Soviet satellites behind the iron curtain, whom the frequently quote on what it's like to live under the iron rule of one Mr. Nikita Khrushchev.

"We know it's rough, this lack of freedom and oppression of human rights in those lands." Fochs told the reporter. "But, for the most part, the fellow who knows, just doesn't have the opportunity of telling about it to an American. At any rate, we have never found it so - eitheer in Budapest or Moscow.

As to the impossibility of more than token communication between western nations behind the iron curtain and the natives, the FOCHS' explained that the men or women who might feel inclined to express themselves simply can't afford to chance it.

"They, and we, are watched continually by secret police," Fochs said, "and even if it weren't for the language barrier, these people could hardly afford being seen speaking to an American in a restaurant, park or even in their own home. There just is no such thing as privacy for anyone not in the upper echelons of the party."

Americans Harassed

White there are a few native Hungarians employed at the American legation in Budapest (most of them from the aristocracy of the old pre-war days). They are employed only under the communist work permit system as translators or in general service, he pointed out.

"And if the commies don't like them, or don't trust them, they can " and do - withdraw the permits at any time. They continuallly do just that to harass us." He added.

With Russian troops and secret police in much evidence throughout the city, Fochs and his wife said neither of them had much of an opportunity to talk to the man in the street - nor to visit in their homes.

"If you do speak to a Hungarian you must be certain they understand you are an American - so they can break off the conversation abruptly." p; He said adding, "A Hungarian would need a special government permit to visit us in our apartment."

It is because of these tight restrictions, there is the feeling that an uprising similar to that of the 1956 freedom fighters is not likely to be repeated - at least not without substantial outside (western) help.& The memory of the bitter struggle that cost so many lives is still there.

"The Hungarian Communists, solidly backed by the Soviets, don't let such a condition build up there again," Fochs said.

"Americans and other representatives of the free western nations, either in Budapest or Moscow, live and work under the assumption that their quarters are "bugged." They must be careful, too, of local employees in the legations. They may be a pipeline to the secret police.

Mrs. Fochs, who worked in U. S. legations in the Far East, Middle East and London before being assigned to Budapest (where her romance with the Sheboygan man blossomed forth), told of the "grim and depressing" atmosphere of the Hungarian capital. "Most visitors to these lands behind the iron curtain mingle only with the privileged class - seeing only what the Commmunists want them to see," she said.

Private Club

Mr. and Mrs. Fochs lived with some 70 other U. S. legation employees and their families in an American-owned apartment house on the "Pest" side of the one time gay and colorful city of some 1,850,000 along the banks of the Danube River.

Their social life of a necessity, was centered almost exclusively around their American associates and friends from the British and other friendly western diplomatic missions. Major outlet for "fun" was a club for westerners on American owned grounds in the comparative privacy of the outlying Budapest hills.

"Here we enjoyed the use of a four-hole golf course, tennis court and swimming pool," Fochs said. "We also had a picnic ground there for fry outs but minus the Sheboygan-type bratwurst - for which I just couldn't wwait to come home...."

"Night life in Budapest, a one-time center of art, culture and fine living - today offers nothing to compare with New York or Paris," Mrs. Fochhs says.

"The songs and dances are all outdated, as are most of the movies, while the few television and radio programs available are strictly communist propaganda," she said.

However, there are such forms of entertainment as the opera (in Hungarian, however), ballets, concerts, swimming and soccer matches, circuses, etc.

Radio Jamming

Jamming of radio programs from the West (Radio Free Europe) is a common and nightly irritating, practice of the Reds.

Mrs. Fochs explained that she and the other wives shopped for their food in the commissary maintained by the western legations. At times, however, food shipments coming into the city would be cut off by the government " particularly those destined for Americans. This, along with limited travel restrictions was still another form of harassment.

"Fresh eggs were always a problem", she said, "although we did find a little market (Hungarian) where we frequently could buy fresh meat."

Her husband, recalling his three months in Russia late in 1959, said the Budapest stores are better stocked than Moscow's and the people, who previously knew a higher standard of living, are better dressed.

"And the weather in Budapest is milder," he said, "although a winter-time smog covers the city from the soft coal they use to heat their homes."

In Moscow, prior to his marriage, Fochs lived in the Ukraine Hotel. The life there was dull, at best, and the weather bitter cold - some 330 below zero, he recalled.

Both agreed to this: "After leaving Hungary and Russia, it was great to throw off the shackles - to once again breathe the free air of home!

Next on the schedule is a visit with Mrs. Foch's family in Roseburg, Ore. John hasn't met his in-laws yet.

Then, for Fochs, comes a new two-year period of State Department duty in Tunis on the Mediterranean coast of North Africa where he is due early in March.

Also due (late in March) is the initial addition to the Fochs family. Mother and baby plan to join dad in Tunis later in the year.

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