Medal of Honor
Sergeant Alexander Joseph Foley (February 19, 1866 - January 14, 1910) was a member of the United States Marine Corps who was awarded the United States' highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, for having distinguished himself during the Boxer Rebellion.
Foley was born in Heckscherville, Pennsylvania to Irish immigrants, Edward and Catherine McDonald Foley. At a young age he decided that he was not going to work the coal mines as his father had done. He joined the United States Marine Corps in 1888 for a period of five years. In 1893, he re-enlisted and, in 1898, he was sent to Cuba during the Spanish-American War where he received his first taste of military action. He also participated in the Philippines Campaign.
In 1900, members of a Chinese nationalist society, known as the Righteous Harmony Society or in contemporary English parlance, "Boxers", resented the presence of Western foreigners and Chinese Christians on their soil and proceeded to attack them. This became known as the Boxer Rebellion. Hundreds of foreigners were murdered. The British Legation at Peking was under siege for two months and soon after the international settlement at Tientsin was also placed under siege by the Boxers. The small garrison of Marines stationed in Tientsin found themselves under attack and outnumbered by the nationalists, who were determined to "drive the foreign devils" out. A multinational military force from the Eight-Nation Alliance whose members were Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States and consisting of 50,000 troops were sent to Tientsin to reinforce the troops already there.
Medal of Honor citation
FOLEY, ALEXANDER J.
Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps
Date:July 19, 1901
G.O. Navy Department, No.55
In the presence of the enemy in the battle near Tientsin, China, July 13, 1900, Foley distinguished himself by meritorious conduct.
Foley was re-assigned to the Culebra Naval Station located on the island of Culebra, Puerto Rico. On January 14, 1910, Sgt. Alexander J. Foley suffered a heart attack and died at the age of 44. The Department of the Navy did not consider it practical at that time to transfer his body to his hometown, therefore Foley was buried in the municipal cemetery of Culebra, with flags at half mast and with full military honors.
Awards and Recognitions
Among Alexander J. Foley's decorations and medals were the following:
Medal of Honor
Spanish Campaign Medal
Philippine Campaign Medal
China Relief Expedition Medal