Jack E. Foley

For other people named Jack Foley, see Jack Foley (disambiguation).
Jack Edward Foley
Born (1922-08-18)August 18, 1922
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Died September 14, 2009(2009-09-14) (aged 87)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Place of burial St. Bartholomew Church, Frankstown
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1943-1945
Rank Captain
Unit Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division

World War II

Relations -Mary L. Naughton (wife)
-Randall James, Richard (brothers)
-John R. N. Foley (son)
Other work Sales Promotion Manager

Captain Jack Edward Foley (August 18, 1922 - September 14, 2009)[1] was a commissioned officer with Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, in the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army during World War II. Foley was portrayed in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers by Jamie Bamber.


Foley was born in 1922 to Randall A., and Viola (née Meahl) Foley.[2] He grew up in Brookline with his two brothers.[2][3] Foley graduated from the now-defunct South Hills High School in 1940, then enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh, where during the 1942-43 season he earned a varsity letter as a manager for the university's basketball team.[3][4] While at Pittsburgh in his third year,[5] he along with almost twenty other members of his ROTC class were commissioned into military service on June 29, 1943.[2]

Military service

In November 1943, Foley served in the Coast Artillery Corps with the rank of First Lieutenant, while defending a part of Puget Sound in Washington.[3] Later on he was transferred to Texas and became a paratrooper.[3] He graduated from Officer Candidate School on November 19, 1943.[6] In October 1944, he graduated with his jump wings.

Foley was sent to Bastogne to fight in the Battle of the Bulge. He commented, 'I'm making my first nighttime jump four feet off the ground off the end of a ten-ton truck.'[7] He joined Easy Company's first platoon, and took command of it when platoon leader Thomas Peacock won the furlough to return to the States. Foley led the first platoon during the major assault on the town of Foy, outside of the Belgian city of Bastogne. Radio contact was poor during the attack. [8] While advancing along with his platoon, the men came across a barbed wire fence and encountered three Germans, who were quickly captured. The Germans started taunting them, calling them "Dummkopf", German for "dumbhead". There was the platoon sergeant, Staff Sergeant Johnny Martin, along with a few other men who left the platoon to find assistance. One of them was so sick of hearing "dummkopf" that he decided kill all of the prisoners with his BAR. The men got to the Central Post and linked up with Easy Company Commander First Lieutenant Norman Dike. Lieutenant Dike did not know what to do, but eventually ordered Foley to bring the first platoon to another assault position. While moving, the group were pinned down by snipers hiding in a haystack, Two of Foley's men were shot and Foley himself was shot right through his boot.[8] After Ronald Speirs took over the command from Dike, with the protective fire from the machine-gunners, the 1st platoon was able to launch grenades to the haystack, eliminating the snipers there, and continued the assault.[9]

Foley also took part in Haguenau action in February 1945. One night, Private Roy Cobb got drunk and disorderly, and had to be court-martialed for assaulting Foley; When he reported to Colonel Robert Sink the details, Sink told him, "Foley, you could have saved us all a lot of trouble. You should have shot him." During the battle, mortar shells were coming in and a lot of fragments flying around all day and night. One evening, Foley had to walk up to Regimental HQ because two of his men had been wounded after they were walking in and out of town searching for liquor.[8] Colonel Robert Sink, whom he had to report to, said something similar, "Foley, you should have shot those fellows, it saved us all this paperwork".[10] After leaving his office and regrouping with his unit, he was wounded by the bombing. Medic Eugene Roe removed a couple of metal fragments from Foley's right wrist.[8] Two weeks later when Easy Company returned to Mourmelon, his wrist became swollen and infected.[8]

In April 1945, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt died, General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered all unit commanders to hold memorial services. Foley, who was Catholic, pulled out his St. Joseph Missal and read it to his troops. He later quipped that he was "the only man who ever buried Franklin D. [who is Episcopalian] as a Catholic.".[3]

Foley followed Easy Company into Germany and Austria for occupation duties. In Austria, Staff Sergeant Charles E. Grant was shot by a drunken soldier. Foley and Easy Company Commander Ronald Speirs took quick actions and eventually found a doctor that saved Grant's life.[11] Foley eventually retired from the army as a Captain.[8]

Later years

Foley returned to the University of Pittsburgh to complete his degree and began his career at ALCOA.[2] His mother died in 1949, aged 55.[8] Following that, he was employed in advertising newsletters for the Aluminum Cooking Utensil Co. in New Kensington, the Cutco Co. in Olean, N.Y., the Alcoa Wrap Co. in New Kensington and Alcoa in Pittsburgh before retiring in 1982.[3]

Bill Guarnere was able to find Foley through a letter.[8] After that, Foley attended the Easy Company reunions and visited Europe several times.[8]

Foley was survived by his wife Mary-Louise (née Naughton) and their five children; Karen, Barbara, John, David, and Nancy,[2] and grandchildren; Julia, Elaine and Rita Foley, Mara and Anthony Ferreira, and Kate and Jonathan Neuse.[2] His two brothers, Randall James of Texas, also a World War II veteran, and Richard of California predeceased him. He died of complications of Type 1 diabetes on September 14, 2009.[2] Mary-Louise died in 2011.


  1. Social Security Death Index record
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Classified Obituary: Jack E. Foley". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2009-12-03.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Ove, Torsten (2009-09-17). "Obituary: Jack E. Foley / Brookline native, one of the 'Band of Brothers'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2009-11-30.
  4. Hotchkiss, Greg, ed. (2009). 2009-10 Pitt Men's Basketball Media Guide (PDF). University of Pittsburgh Athletic Media Relations Office. p. 175. Retrieved 2010-01-12.
  5. WWII Army Enlistment Records: on-line NARA Archival Database
  6. "1 st Lt. Jack Foley, 506th PIR 2nd Battalion 101st airborne.". WW II Paratrooper Webbase. Retrieved 2009-12-02.
  7. p.208, Alexander
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "Jack Foley". The Men of Easy Company Association. 2007-05-23. Retrieved 2009-10-12.
  9. Chapter 12, Ambrose
  10. Ambrose, p.235.
  11. Location 1131, Ooms


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