The United States entered the war in April 1898 on behalf of the revolutionists in Cuba who were being oppressed by the Spanish.
On May 11, 1898 Seaman Foss and his shipmates snared the communications cable off the coast of northwest Cuba. With great difficulty while under intense enemy fire the men pulled the cable up over the bow of their ship and proceeded to sever it. Since many of his shipmates were wounded or killed in the process, Foss finished the job by cutting the cable with a hacksaw.
Seaman Foss further distinguished himself aboard the U.S.S. Marblehead during the battle of Santiago later in July 1898. The war officially ended December 10, 1898 when Spain signed a Treaty relinquishing sovereignty over Cuba.
On July 7, 1899 Seaman Herbert Foss was awarded his country's highest honor, The Congressional Medal of Honor, for his extraordinary bravery and coolness under enemy fire. He also received the following medals:
- Admiral Sampson Navy Medal, 1898
- Good Conduct Medal, 1898
- Service Medal, 1900
A piece of the cable that he had successfully severed in the war torn waters off Cuba was also presented to him. On November 9, 1936 his name was entered and recorded on the Navy and Army Medal of Honor Roll.
Herbert Lewis Foss passed away on September 1, 1937 at the age of sixty-six. At that time he was recognized as a decorated veteran of the Spanish American War who later served as an ordinance man at the Naval Ammunition Depot in Hingham. His was one of the largest military funerals ever seen in Hingham. The Methodist Episcopal Church was entirely filled with family and friends, many representing the numerous military and fraternal organizations of which he had been a member.
Following the service at the Church a procession formed and marched to the Fort Hill Cemetery. The flag draped casket was borne along on a 110th Cavalry Caisson drawn by six white horses. Military and Masonic Committal Services were held accompanied by a bugler and a U.S. Marine Firing Squad from the ammunition depot.
On Flag Day, June 14, 1987, a Memorial Service was held by the Edward Ball Cole Post #120 American Legion. The Invocation was given by Rev. Bartholomew, followed by remarks from Bud Campbell, Post Commander. Herb's daughter, Evelyn Foss Carnes, and her family were present at the service.
The presentation during this service of the history of achievements of Herbert Lewis Foss revealed that his receipt of The Congressional Medal of Honor had remained an obscurity to all but his family. Thanks to Tom Wallace, Veterans Officer, and Charles MacGillivary of the Medal of Honor Society, a proper bronze plaque was installed on the grave of Herbert Foss.
Bud Campbell's hard work and dedicated research was the basis for the 1987 Flag Day remembrance for Seaman Foss. Herb's grandson, Bob Davidson, donated the picture of Foss wearing his medals as well as the medals themselves and that notorious piece of cable from the ocean off the coast of Cuba.
Shea Field Memorial Grove is an area at the entrance of the South Weymouth Naval Air Station, which honors those who have received the Medal of Honor from area towns. As of the year 2002, Hingham is represented by its only recipient to date, Seaman Herbert L. Foss.
Materials for the memorial display located in Hingham Town Hall in recognition of Seaman Herbert Lewis Foss were compiled by members of Edward Ball Cole Post #120 American Legion under the leadership of Post Commander Pete Shaw (2002). The display was designed and prepared by Susan Petersen - Graphic Designer of Hingham, and constructed by Michael Shilhan of Hingham. Fall of 2002.