White Shield veteran & brother of fallen veteran unite
Last fall, The Minot Daily News told the story of White Shield Vietnam veteran Austin Gillette saying farewell to a fellow Marine after 51 years.
Gillette and several other members of the Joseph Young Hawk-Elmer Bear American Legion Post of White Shield, while attending the Basilone Parade in September 2019 in Raritan, N.J., visited the grave of Marine Cpl. Steven Joel Foster in Marycrest Cemetery in Mahwah, N.J. Gillette then posted a message last fall on the HonorStates.org website, saying he served with Foster in Vietnam and if any family reads the post, if they would contact him. Both Foster and Gillette served with the U.S. Marine Corps’ Amtrac Platoon. On Wednesday, Jack Foster, of Long Branch, N.J., responded to the post, saying he is Marine Cpl. Steven Foster’s older brother and that he would welcome visiting with Gillette to share memories.
Foster, in a phone call with The Minot Daily News on Thursday, said his brother, Steven, had been in Vietnam for 12 months and had 19 days to go. On July 31, 1998, he said his brother, Gillette and other Marines came under attack in their quarters. His brother was wounded and Gillette was one of the people who helped pull him out and get him to medical treatment. Steven Foster survived for 24 days and died in a hospital in Japan. Their father had flown to Japan to be with him.
“He was my best friend,” Jack Foster said of his brother.
Jack Foster now was the only surviving son in his family. He was set to join the Navy and become a Navy pilot but then did not go into the military.
Gillette was able to find information about Steven Foster and where he was buried at a website Jack Foster had provided information about his brother.
Foster said their paths now have finally crossed when he came upon Gillette’s posting on the HonorStates.org website.
In a phone conversation this week, Foster said he and Gillette shared some nice stories about his brother. “I shared with him that I went to Vietnam a few years ago,” he said. Foster and a Marine captain went to every place his brother had been including where his brother was wounded. “That brought me closer to my brother,” he said. Foster is a teacher with the Monmouth University School of Education in N.J. and monitors teachers in the field.
He said members of Amtrac Platoon have invited him to their next reunion in 2022 and he hopes to be there.
“I am very pleased,” he said. He said some in the group are people his brother mentioned to him.
“We’re all a bit wounded by this and try to get through it. You do it best with others,” he said.