Korean War era - Battle of Inchon, T-bone Hill, Baldy Hill.
Weapons company - small arms, 9th infantry, 2nd division, Charlie company
Overseas duty - 11 months, 28 days.
Robert E. Foley, U.S. Army
Arrived in the Korean Theater of war on Oct. 11, 1952.
Training stations - Fort Dix basic training, 11 weeks of basic training was the normal length for basic combat troops that were destined to do their tour of service if ordered to the Korean theater of conflict. With the country just coming off a world war, many high ranking generals felt Korea was going to be a walk in the park. After engaging the enemy, they realized their mistakes and had to change the basic training they were used to in order to have an even advantage with the enemy. At first, our leaders geared up to just fight the North Korean armies. When other countries came into the picture, it made us focus our training to be equal to, if not better than, our enemies.
B.A.R. - Browing automatic rifle. The B.A.R. was a family of automatic rifles or, as some called them, machine guns. The military placed them in their arsenals naming them in the light machine rifle categories. The M-1918 version was accepted by the government because it chambered the 30.06 cartridge. It was designed by John Browing in 1917 to be used in the European corps. By advancing forces in the Korean War, it was commonly slung over the shoulder and fired from the hip, a concept called "walking fire." The use of a bipod made firing more accurate.
Origin - the United States
Inventor - John Browing
Year - 1917
Weight - 15 pounds
RPM - 500 to 650, depending on temp.
Range - up to 5,000 yards
It was common for B.A.R. riflemen, like Robert Foley, to carry his B.A.R. slung over his shoulder along with 12 20-round magazines of ammo along with three canteens, a 45-caliber pistol with 50 rounds and his 25-pound flak jacket. More than 61,000 B.A.R. rifles were ordered for the Korean War.
Korea - a proxy war. A proxy war is a war between two countries that is fought in another country owned by neither of the conflicting countries. Proxy wars usually continue for many years and end in a ceasefire or when the leaders of the countries that started the wars leave or are voted out of office.
Medals and awards - Combat Infantry Badge, Purple Heart, one Oak Leaf, Korean Service with three Bronze Stars, United Nations Service Medal, National Defense Medal and Good Conduct Medal.
Married: Agnes (Schrantz) Sept. 9, 1959.
Children: Robert Jr., Tracy, William and Michael.
Grandchildren: Emily, Andrew, Madeline, Samuel, Robert and Jack.
Robert E. Foley was born on June 5, 1931, in Dunkirk. His father Eugene was a dentist, and his mother Eleanor (Meister) was a homemaker who took care of the Foley's 425 Eagle St. home. Growing up with sister Jeanne and twin brothers John and Jim made home a great place to grow up. Both of his brothers joined the military; John served in the Army and Jim served in the Navy.
Growing up on Eagle Street meant playing baseball with other young boys in the summer and football in the fall. When not playing sports, most of the younger group hung out at a favorite spot called Cease's Diner on Central Avenue. When hunting and fishing season arrived, you would catch Bob with good friends Dick Linden and Bill Dopler. The trio was inseparable during the sporting seasons. During the summer, they would often swim in the lake to the breakwall, where a large group of local children enjoyed the summer's heat and watched the boats drive past. When the group grew older, the winters were a great time to go to the Boots & Saddle at the Dunkirk Hotel, where Robert was often found with his good friend Don Carlson.
With the Korean War in full gear, Robert decided to do his duty and on April 23, 1952, officially joined the U.S. government as Private Robert Foley. Instead of swimming off Dunkirk's breakwall, he was off to Fort Dix to begin his training to be part of an Army platoon ready to be sent to Korea.
Upon arriving in Korea, Robert was assigned to the 9th infantry division Charlie company. He was assigned the B.A.R., which was a funny sight because Robert was the smallest in the company carrying the heaviest small arms rifle.
While in Korea, Robert saw action in places called T-bone Hill and Old Baldy Hill. On Nov. 20 1952, while on an enemy search patrol, Robert was wounded in action by enemy mortars, receiving wounds on his left side. He was treated in a new medical combat surgical unit called M.A.S.H. unit.
This new medical unit would treat battlefield injuries just minutes after they were received and would move as the engagements with the enemy moved, many times less than a mile away from the front lines.
On March 31, 1953, on hill 355 and while on patrol, Robert's unit engaged fire with North Korean forces, and he was again wounded by mortars. This time he suffered wounds in the lower back, elbow, left thigh, arm and middle finger. He was then sent to a Swedish hospital for surgery. After the initial surgery was performed, Robert was sent to an Army hospital in South Korea for more surgery. On April 20, he was sent to Osaka, Japan to the army's 279th general hospital.
Here Robert received skin grafts and more surgeries along with much needed therapy. Finally he was released back to duty. Word was out that the war was over and that a cease-fire was in effect. The Korean War officially ended in July 1953. Time seemed to stand still until in September 1953. While in Inchon, Foley received orders to head back to Fort Meade, Md. From here Robert received his honorable discharge.
After his return, he started classes at Syracuse University. He later became friends with Robert Kearse whose family owned and operated a construction company. Some of the jobs that were performed by the company were on the New York State Thruway. Here the company received many bids to construct the new approaches. Work was also done on selected Kodak properties and assorted area major jobs. Robert became a partner and later purchased the company as a co-owner.
Robert Foley is another Korean veteran who did his job, came home and picked up where he started. He never talked about the Korean War. It was called the Forgotten War, a war that was forgotten by most but never forgotten by those who experienced it. Most Korean veterans say little if anything about the war, keeping it inside of them for more than 60 years.
What really happened over there? What did they see? What power does this little country have that made so many young men come back and keep this war inside? We have very few Korean veterans left to tell the story. The same goes for our Vietnam veterans who, as history reveals, basically were in a war similar to their older brothers in the Korean war.
Robert Foley fought a war that most people back home couldn't understand. They wondered why we were there and what were we doing to win the war. To them, there was no end in sight. The more we killed, the more they sent.
When Robert was asked about the war and what he saw, he once replied that he did get to see one boy from Dunkirk while serving in Korea named Dick Frey. Besides that, there were no bad stories and no good stories. Most veterans of a proxy war, where they have these little countries thousands of miles from home take over their minds, return home only to relive the war each and every day they live. Robert Foley was another Korean veteran.
Robert Foley is a hero - and our hero of the week.