Lieutenant Commander, USN
The recipient of the 2004 City of Auburn Distinguished Veterans Award, Dr. James E. Foy, was commissioned in the United States Navy on December 15, 1942, as a Fighter Pilot. Previously, he had graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Science degree in both history and sociology.
In March 1943, Dean Foy became fully qualified to land on an aircraft carrier in waters adjacent to Norfolk, Virginia. Subsequently, he was sent to San Diego, California, where he shipped out to the South Pacific on a Sea Plane Tender. In July 1943, he received the Air Medal for superior airmanship after his plane was attacked by enemy aircraft and hit in the engine and windshield. Dean Foy, flying over open water with no life raft, successfully landed the plane "dead stick," with no power, back on the Russell Islands.
Returning to the United States in September 1943, Dean Foy was reassigned to Green Cove Springs, Florida where he was an Operational Instructor and Aviation Safety Officer. One of his proudest accomplishments is that at this base he reduced the fatality rate 57 percent and reduced the major crash rate from 20.5 per month to 3 per month while simultaneously saving the Navy about $2 million per month.
In August 1945, Dean Foy was reassigned to Norfolk, Virginia, to begin at-sea testing on the aircraft carrier Franklin D. Roosevelt. However, prior to departing, the war was over.
After a brief period in the insurance business, Dean Foy returned to the University of Alabama and served as the Assistant to the Dean of Students. In the fall of 1948, after athletic relations between Auburn and Alabama had been renewed, Dean Foy was exposed to the "Auburn Spirit." Even though he took an initial reduction in pay, he came to Auburn University and served as Dean for more than 26 years. In 1975, Dean Foy was recognized as "Dean of the Year" by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. Retiring on April 1, 1978, the legislature immediately approved a special referendum renaming the Auburn Student Union, the James E. Foy Union.