Medal of Honor Recipient Shares Leadership Guidance

Medal of Honor Recipient Shares Leadership Guidance

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Lieutenant General (ret.) Robert F. Foley is a towering example of Army leadership. This 6-foot-7-inch figure had a military career that ranged from a rifle company commander in Vietnam to commanding general of Fifth Army. Along the way, he was chief of staff for a REFORGER exercise in Europe, led the fielding team for the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, and served as Commandant of Cadets at West Point.

He also received the Medal of Honor.

General Foley has now provided guidance for those looking to follow in his (size 16) footsteps by writing Standing Tall: Leadership Lessons in the Life of a Soldier.

This new title in the AUSA Book Program has been receiving praise from all quarters. To give just one example, former head coach of the Duke University basketball team Mike Krzyzewski calls it “an amazing opportunity . . . to learn about leadership from a true American hero.”

We sat down with General Foley to discuss the book and his remarkable career of service.

AUSA: What inspired you to join the Army?

Foley: I was recruited to play basketball at West Point right after high school in 1959. After serving the mandatory five years of commissioned service in 1968, which included two years as a platoon leader with the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii, one year as a heavy mortar platoon leader and rifle company commander in Vietnam and two years as an Infantry instructor at the US Army Engineer School at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, I realized that I enjoyed the leadership responsibilities, the camaraderie and the sense of purpose being a member of the US Armed Forces.

AUSA: Which skills from basketball carried over to your military career?

Foley: The importance of teamwork, toughness, perseverance, and the will to win.

AUSA: Like most Medal of Honor recipients, you are modest about the award and sometimes reluctant to speak about the actions of that day in Vietnam. What other event from your time in uniform brings great pride?

Foley: Watching my sons graduate from the Air Force Academy and West Point and following them through their military career, especially when they served in various theaters of combat.

AUSA: You say that serving as the Commandant of Cadets at West Point was the most enjoyable assignment. Why was it so rewarding?

Foley: Because I had the opportunity to, individually and collectively, help shape the lives of some outstanding young men and women.

AUSA: What is the most important lesson today’s Army leaders can take from your life of service?

Foley: Develop early in your career a habit of continuous professional reading about leaders, military history, and virtuous sources associated with moral-ethical reasoning and values-based decision-making.

To order a copy of Standing Tall, please visit