AUSA announces 2023 National Award winners

Association of the U.S. Army | Aug. 17, 2023

The Association of the U.S. Army has announced the recipients of its 2023 National Awards, which honor individuals for their selfless service and dedication to the Army and its Soldiers.

“Congratulations to our National Award recipients! Their dedication, commitment and desire to serve and support our Army is an example to us all,” said retired Gen. Bob Brown, AUSA president and CEO. “Each of our honorees has made a difference in the lives of others and in support of our Army and our nation. They represent the very best of AUSA, and I look forward to honoring them in October.”

The awards will be presented at the AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition, Oct. 9-11 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

During the annual meeting, AUSA also will honor retired Gen. Eric Shinseki, former Army chief of staff and secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. AUSA earlier this year announced that Shinseki is the 2023 recipient of the George Catlett Marshall Medal. AUSA’s highest award, the Marshall Medal is presented for distinguished and selfless service.

Shinseki was chosen because of his decades of selfless service to the United States and particularly because of his many efforts to support the Army and its soldiers and veterans.

Here’s a closer look at this year’s National Award recipients.

Abrams Medal

The General Creighton W. Abrams Medal for exceptional service to the U.S. Army will be awarded to retired Lt. Gen. Robert Foley, a Medal of Honor recipient who led the fielding team for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, served as commandant of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, commanded Fifth Army and inspired and mentored generations of Soldiers.

“I have known Bob all my professional life and don’t think I know anyone who epitomizes what Gen. Abrams stood for more than him,” retired Gen. Dennis Reimer, who served as the 33rd Army chief of staff, wrote in a letter endorsing Foley for the award.

Abrams was the architect of the modern-day all-volunteer Army and a leader of character, competence, commitment and courage, Reimer wrote.

“Today’s Army reflects his accomplishments. These accomplishments would not be possible without soldiers like [retired Lt. Gen.] Robert Foley,” Reimer wrote.

A 1963 graduate of West Point, Foley earned the Medal of Honor while serving as commander of A Company, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division, in Vietnam. On Nov. 5, 1966, Foley and his soldiers were ordered to extricate another company that had come under siege by the enemy, according to his Medal of Honor citation. Moving through the thick jungle, the soldiers encountered a strong enemy force, and the company’s leading element quickly sustained several casualties.

Foley immediately ran forward to direct the company’s efforts and led his soldiers in an attack on the enemy. When both radio operators accompanying him were wounded, Foley defied the heavy enemy fire and helped his soldiers to safety, according to the citation.

As he moved forward again, one of his machine-gun crews was wounded. “Seizing the weapon, he charged forward firing the machine gun, shouting orders, and rallying his men, thus maintaining the momentum of the attack,” the citation says.

Under increasingly heavy enemy fire, Foley ordered his assistant to take cover, and he moved forward alone, firing the machine gun until the wounded were evacuated. Foley continued to fight after being wounded by an enemy grenade, leading the assault on several enemy gun emplacements and single-handedly destroying three of them.

After Vietnam, Foley served in various assignments across the Army, including in Germany, South Korea and the Pentagon.

After 37 years of Army service, Foley retired in 2000. He has served as president of Marion Military Institute, a junior college in Alabama, and as director of Army Emergency Relief.

He is the author of “Standing Tall: Leadership Lessons in the Life of a Soldier.”