Yankee Division WWI Maj. Gen. Thomas Foley recognized by Massachusetts National Guard
Story by SFC Laura Berry on 07/23/2019
HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. — Soldiers of the Massachusetts National Guard and family members of Maj. Gen. Thomas Foley packed into the Adjutant General’s conference room for a dedication ceremony at Joint Force Headquarters Massachusetts, July 22, 2019.
The conference room has been named the MG Foley Conference Room to honor his service in the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, Massachusetts National Guard, US Army and the Massachusetts State Guard from 1898-1946.
In an attempt to do more to recognize the organization’s vast history, this dedication is just one of many to keep the memory and stories alive of the notable men and women of the Massachusetts National Guard.
Brig. Gen. Leonid Kondratiuk, director of historical services for the Massachusetts National Guard, nominated Maj. Gen. Foley to be honored in today’s ceremony and wrote the caption that now hangs below the portrait of Foley in the conference room. Kondratiuk also credited some of the research behind the nomination to Maj. Gen. Foley’s great-grandson, Tom Foley, who also spoke at the ceremony.
The caption reads as follows:
MG(MA) Thomas M. Foley served in the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, National Guard, State Guard and U.S. Army from 1898-1946. He began his military career in May 1898 when he enlisted in the 47th New York Volunteer Infantry for service in the Spanish American War. In 1899, he enlisted in Company G (Emmett Guards), 9th Infantry, MVM, the Worcester Irish American unit. By 1912, he was captain and commander of Company G. In 1916 he commanded the Emmetts while they were in federal service in Texas guarding the border with Mexico. He was still in command when the 9th was called into Federal service on 25 Mar 1917 just before the declaration of war with Germany. CPT Foley retained command of Company G when it was redesignated as Co G, 101st Infantry Regt, 26th Division.
During the Champagne-Marne and Aisne-Marne Campaigns in July 1918, which was some of the heaviest fighting of World War I for the Yankee Division, CPT Foley commanded the 2d Bn, 101st Infantry. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the French Legion of Honor for gallantry in action 15-22 Jul 1918. He was later awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Purple Heart. He was promoted to major in September 1918.
After the war, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and then colonel in 1920 when he took command of the 101st Infantry Regiment. In 1923 he was promoted to brigadier general and assigned as Commander, 52d Brigade, 26th Division. He retired from the Massachusetts National Guard in 1928 and placed on the retired list as a major general.
General Foley returned to state service in 1941 as a brigadier general as Commander, 1st Brigade, 2d Division, Mass. State Guard. In 1942 he was promoted to major general and assigned as Commanding General, 2d Division, Massachusetts State Guard. Under his command, the State Guard recruited and trained a 10,000-man force organized as a light infantry division available for both state and federal missions. General Foley authorized officer training courses, summer camps, acquisition of federal weapons and equipment, and the attachment of female militia soldiers of the Women’s Defense Corps. He commanded the Massachusetts State Guard up to its inactivation on 13 November 1946. General Foley was also the long-time Chief of the Worcester Police Department. General Foley epitomized the Massachusetts citizen-soldier. He devoted his life to the service of his state and country for 48 years and was a key leader in the Massachusetts National Guard during the first half of the 20th Century.
Although Foley passed away in 1970, the amount of family that attended and the stories shared at the ceremony as if he were still around showed the bond he had not only to service, but also to his family.
“This above all is a testimony to his family legacy that each and every one of you still feels such a strong connection to this person who is a big part of our legacy and a big part of the commonwealth’s legacy.” said Brig. Gen. (Retired) Francis Magurn, Assistant Adjutant General, Massachusetts National Guard to the Foley family. “We like to tie ourselves back to those icons of that legacy because it gives our younger soldiers both an aspiration and an example of just what it means to be part of what we call the nations’ first. The Massachusetts Army National Guard.”