The Silver Star is the third highest United States combat-only award. It was established in 1918 as the Citation Star, and it has been awarded posthumously for actions as far back as the Spanish-American War. This fallen hero earned his Silver Star fighting in a jungle far from his Tuscarawas County home.
The Foutz family, often spelled Pfoutz or Pfouts in early records, settled in Harrison County, Ohio in the early 1800s with the arrival of Michael Pfoutz (1769-1851) and his wife Catherine (1773-1844). Michael immigrated from Germany in the late 18th century and married Catherine in Maryland in 1799. The couple moved west into Ohio after the War of 1812 where they farmed and began to raise their family. The couple welcomed numerous children, among them was a son named Gideon Pfoutz (1822-1911). Gideon, like his father, farmed in Harrison County and eventually married Delila Jones (1826-1904) in 1843.
Gideon and Delila raised several children on their farm in Monroe Township, Harrison County. Among their many sons was John G. Pfoutz (1851-1923) who married Mary Caldwell (1851-1895) in 1871 and worked a farm neighboring his father’s. John and Mary had one son in between a slew of daughters and named him George Washington Pfoutz (1882-1964). George married Bessie Sproul (1893-1971) in 1909 and, like his father before him, George worked a farm next door to his own father.
One of George and Bessie’s sons, Clyde H. Foutz (1911-1977), worked for a railroad as a trackman in is teens, an industry he continued to work in until his death. Clyde married Lillian Camp (1919-2001) in the fall of 1939 and the couple began their family in the town of Uhrichsville. When World War Two began, Clyde worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad in Dennison and the family lived on the 500 block of Main Street in Uhrichsville. The couple welcomed five children, three sons and two daughters, by 1945. Among their sons was their youngest, Kenneth Lee Foutz, born May 13, 1945.
Kenneth graduated from Dennison High School in 1963, where he had been a member of the yearbook staff, the Hi-Y Club, Chorus and was active on the track and football teams. Following high school he worked for a Dover service station and the Warner and Swasey Company in New Philadelphia. Kenneth began his service in the United States Army in late 1967 and completed his advanced infantry training at Fort McClellan, Alabama in January 1968. He subsequently completed airborne training and was assigned to B Company, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Battalion, 101st Airborne Division and sent to overseas service in Vietnam.
Kenneth L. Foutz rose quickly to the rank of Staff Sergeant, a testament to what must have been the considerable leadership qualities he possessed. During his first tour in Vietnam in October 1968, Sergeant Foutz was on a patrol to ambush North Vietnamese troops that were using Cambodia as a means to infiltrate South Vietnam. The patrol engaged with the enemy and Sergeant Foutz and twelve other soldiers were wounded. Sergeant Foutz was able to return home briefly after this incident, but returned to Vietnam for a second tour of duty in August 1969.
When Sergeant Foutz returned to Vietnam, his unit continued to undertake operations in Cambodia designed to interdict North Vietnamese troops and material from entering Vietnam. While on patrol in Cambodia in early May 1970, Sergeant Foutz’s unit came under fire from several concealed enemy positions. Sergeant Foutz deployed his men in an effort to suppress the hostile fire and then, singlehandedly, assaulted one of the enemy positions. Sergeant Foutz was killed in the attempt.
Staff Sergeant Kenneth L. Foutz was posthumously awarded the Silver Star Medal for gallantry for his actions in Cambodia. He was the first Tuscarawas County soldier to be killed there during the Vietnam War. Sergeant Foutz was laid to rest in Union Cemetery, Uhrichsville on Saturday, May 23, 1970. He was survived by his wife and a young son.
© Noel B. Poirier, 2022.