Maj. John D. Foy ‘97 received the Lt. William Cheney Award from the Secretary of the Air Force, the Honorable Michael Donley, in Washington DC this past October. The Cheney Award honors an act of valor, extreme fortitude or self-sacrifice in a humanitarian interest, performed in connection with aircraft by an officer or enlisted Airman. He and another Airman received the award in recognition of their efforts to support Pakistan flood relief operations in 2010.
According to the Air Force Times, Maj. Foy and Capt. Patrick Markey “led a 36-member team that provided humanitarian support during one of the largest natural disasters in Pakistan's history. The 2010 floods there affected some 20 million people. […] During their six weeks supporting the humanitarian operation, more than 7.5 million pounds of cargo and more than 1,800 personnel were transported on 290 flights throughout the flood-affected area.”
Maj. Foy credits his foundation as a leader through his time as a student at St. Paul’s. He believed, “The Air Force Academy, as well as the Air Force, shares all the same qualities listed in the mission statement. The core values of the Air Force are integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do. I was taught these values at home and it was reinforced at St. Paul’s Episcopal. Whether it was in the classroom or on the field of play, these qualities were taught and instilled in my character.”
Out of his past teachers, Victor Helmsing is one that had a lasting impression on him. Maj. Foy had him for both AP Econ and AP Government and stated, “His enthusiasm for teaching was amazing, but he also held us to the highest standards for work. I was able to carry that with me to the Air Force Academy, and once I graduated, into my Air Force career.”
His football coach Eddie Guth was a huge influence on his college and career path. He said, “Much like Victor, Coach Guth impressed upon me the importance of giving anything that you are working on all your effort and dedication. There was never any halfway with him. If you were going to show up, you were going to work hard...otherwise, there was no reason to be there. On a side note, the recommendation letter that he wrote for me for the Air Force Academy is framed and hanging in my grandmother's home.”
As time has passed, Maj. Foy remembers less about individual classes, tests, and games, and more about his overall experience at St. Paul’s. He stated, “I remember the first couple of weeks when I thought that I was in way over my head. I had transferred from a highly rated and large public high school in Florida, but the educational standard at St. Paul’s was so far above anything I had experienced before that it seemed pretty daunting. However, every teacher there was willing to stay after class to answer my questions, tutor and mentor me when I needed help. It was not just a job to them, but almost an extension of their own family. They wanted me and all the students to succeed. Failure was not an option. Help was always available if you wanted or needed it.”
Maj. Foy also has a bit of advice to offer St. Paul’s parents and students. He advised, “Keep a positive attitude and get ready to work hard. It will be one of the most challenging experiences of your life and will make your college experience a breeze. Every moment will be worth it. I was far better prepared for college and life coming from St. Paul’s than most college freshmen.”