By By Emily Tower, West Point Staff WriterMay 14, 2009
The West Point Association of Graduates plans to honor six distinguished graduates at 11 a.m. Tuesday during the alumni exercise and review ceremony on the Plain.
The distinguished graduate honor first was awarded in 1992. Awardees are nominated by presidents of West Point societies and U.S. Military Academy classes and are chosen by an AOG committee.
The committee selected retired Gen. John P. Abizaid, retired Lt. Gen. Robert F. Foley, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James D. Hughes, retired Gen. Thomas A. Schwartz, retired Gen. Eric K. Shinseki and retired Gen. Donn A. Starry as this year's distinguished graduates.
John P. Abizaid, Class of 1973: Abizaid was commissioned into the infantry and served at Fort Bragg, N.C., and Fort Lewis, Wash., before attending the Defense Language Institute. He also studied at the University of Jordan in Amman via an Olmstead Scholarship and at Harvard.
As a captain, he deployed to Grenada in command of a company of the 1st Ranger Battalion. He later deployed to Northern Iraq in 1991 in command of the 325th Airborne Battalion Combat Team. As a brigade commander, he led efforts in Haiti in 1995.
He also served as executive assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, special assistant to the Army Vice Chief of Staff and United Nations observer and operations officer for Observer Group Lebanon in 1985-86.
As a general officer, Abizaid was the 66th Commandant of Cadets, assistant division commander of the 1st Armored and 1st Infantry Divisions, commander of the 1st Infantry when it deployed to Kosovo and was combatant commander of U.S. Central Command, among other duties.
After he retired from the Army, Abizaid was named Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. Among his many memberships and directorships, he is the Distinguished Chair of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.
Robert F. Foley, Class of 1963: Foley received the Medal of Honor for actions in Vietnam while serving as commander of Company A, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division.
On Nov. 5, 1966, Foley's company encountered enemy forces after being ordered to assist another company. He ran to the enemy to command the company and was wounded, according to his Medal of Honor citation. He helped move several wounded Soldiers to medical care and charged the enemy with a machine gun he took from a wounded Soldier. All the while, he maintained order and continued to command the battlefield.
When enemy fire became too heavy, he ordered troops to take cover while he advanced on the enemy alone until wounded Soldiers could be evacuated.
He was wounded again by a grenade but refused medical treatment and continued to engage the enemy. He destroyed three enemy gun emplacement positions and kept up the fight for several hours until the mission was successful.
Following his service in Vietnam, Foley was requested by name to be a company tactical officer for the Corps of Cadets by then-Brig. Gen. Sam Walker, the Commandant of Cadets, in 1969.
Foley later commanded a battalion in Aschaffenburg, Germany; a brigade in Kitzingen, Germany; and was assistant division commander of the 2nd Infantry Division.
He became the 63rd Commandant of Cadets in 1992 and later became commanding general of Fifth U.S. Army.
Foley now is director of Army Emergency Relief.
James D. Hughes, Class of 1946: Hughes entered service in the Army Air Corps in 1946. After the Army Air Corps became the Air Force, Hughes, a fighter pilot, completed 6,300 flying hours and 101 combat missions. He was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses, nine Air Medals and the Purple Heart for his service in the Korean War.
He was chosen to be military aide to Vice President Nixon in 1957 and later served as military assistant to the president when Nixon won the election. During the Vietnam War, Hughes was an instructor pilot to Vietnamese Air Force pilots and received the Bronze Star and Air Medal.
He commanded from squadron level on up and was commander in chief of the Pacific Air Forces. After retiring from the Air Force, Hughes worked with Lockheed and established the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor in New Windsor.
Thomas A. Schwartz, Class of 1967: Schwartz was commissioned in the infantry. He served in Vietnam as a platoon leader and company commander and was awarded the Silver Star, Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
He also served as aide-de-camp to the commanding general of U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command, a company tactical officer at USMA, inspector general for the 1st Armored Division, infantry branch chief and chief of staff of the 4th Infantry Division and Combined Field Army in Korea, among many battalion and brigade commands.
He was assistant division commander of the 2nd Infantry Division and commanding general of the 4th Infantry and Fort Carson, Colo. He also was commanding general of III Corps and Fort Hood, Texas.
Schwartz also was commanding general of U.S. Forces Command and was commander in chief of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea.
He and his wife also helped establish the Military Child Education Coalition and he has served as the organization's chairman of the board since 2004.
Eric K. Shinseki, Class of 1965: Shinseki served in Vietnam soon after graduation and received two Purple Heart medals. He later commanded an armored cavalry squadron, an armored brigade and the 1st Cavalry Division.
When he was promoted to general in 1997, he was tasked with being commanding general of U.S. Army Europe, commander of Allied Land Forces Central Europe and commander of NATO's Stabilization Force in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Two years later, Shinseki became the 34th Army Chief of Staff. After he retired from the Army, he was appointed as the Class of 1951 Chair on Leadership at West Point and served as an advisor to the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Shinseki recently was selected to be secretary of Veterans Affairs.
Donn A. Starry, Class of 1948: Starry was commissioned in the transportation corps but transferred to armor. Following several assignments and schools, he took command of an armor battalion and then served in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense.
He deployed to Vietnam and earned the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Soldiers Medal, Bronze Star Medal for Valor, Purple Heart and nine Air Medals.
Starry commanded the Armor School and Fort Knox, Ky., and V Corps, which led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. He also was commanding general of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. He was instrumental in fielding the Abrams tank, Bradley Fighting Vehicle, Apache and Black Hawk helicopters and the Patriot Missile System.
He also received the Distinguished Service Medal and was assigned as commander in chief of U.S. Readiness Command.