- Uphold Democracy
Thomas A. Heaney, Jr. was born in Portsmouth, VA and grew up in Middletown, Rhode Island. Tom attended Middletown High School. Scholastically, he excelled throughout high school and was selected as a member of the Rhode Island and National Honor Societies. Tom played multiple sports, but he was a standout at football. He was the quarterback and team captain of the state championship football team.
In 1977, he continued his education at the University of Rhode Island where he was enrolled in the Army ROTC program. Tom participated in football, track and field, and water polo while attending URI. Upon graduation in 1981, he received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History, selected as a Distinguished Military Graduate, Cramer Saber Award recipient and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Infantry.
LT Heaney’s first assignment was to the 2d Battalion, 32d Infantry, 7th Infantry Division at Fort Ord, CA from April 1982 to June 1986. He served successively as a Rifle and Scout Platoon Leader, Company Executive Officer, Battalion S3 Air, and Infantry Company Commander. Following company command, he attended the Infantry Officers Advanced Course at Fort Benning, GA.
After Fort Benning, Tom was assigned to duty at Fort Dix, NJ where he served as the Operations Officer for the 4th Battalion, 49th Infantry and as the Operations Officer for the 2d Training Brigade from February 1990 to June 1991. During his assignment to Fort Dix, he was selected for the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, KS from July 1991 to June 1992. Following CGSC, MAJ Heaney was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Hunter Army Airfield, GA where he served as the Battalion Liaison Officer, Battalion Operations Officer, and Battalion Executive Officer.
While assigned to the 1st Ranger Battalion, he participated in Operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY, September 1994 – March 1995, a military intervention designed to remove the military regime installed by a 1991 Haitian coup d’état. In June 1995, he was assigned to AC/RC duty as the Chief of Operations for Readiness Group Knox at Fort Knox, KY until August 1996.
His next assignment was in the Republic of Panama as the Chief of Operations for U.S. Army South from September 1996 to July 1997. He then commanded the Jungle Operations Training Battalion at Fort Sherman until June 1999. After Battalion Command, LTC Heaney was assigned to Fort Polk, LA where he served as the Live-Fire Senior Observer/Controller at the Joint Readiness Training Center until June 2000.
LTC Heaney attended the Naval War College at the Newport Naval Station in Newport, RI from July 2000 to June 2001. Following graduation, he was assigned as the Director of Exercises, Assistant Chief of Staff G3, XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, NC. During this assignment, the terror attacks on 11 September 2001 occurred. As the Exercise Director, he spent the year preparing the XVIII Corps Headquarters and subordinate divisions to lead our nation’s fight against terrorists in Afghanistan. The XVIII Corps formed the nucleus of Combined Task Force (CTF) 180, a provisional multinational command made up of units from across the U.S. Army that fought in Afghanistan from May 2002-March 2003. While at Fort Bragg, he was selected to command the 1st Basic Combat Training Brigade at Fort Jackson, SC. COL Heaney commanded the 1st BCT Brigade from July 2002 to July 2004.
After brigade command, COL Heaney was assigned to Fort Sam Houston, Texas as the Deputy Commander for Operations, U.S. Army South and served as the Deputy Commander-West for the United States Army Recruiting Command at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Both positions were General Officer positions filled by a former Brigade Commander. His final assignment was as the Senior Army Advisor to the President of the U.S. Naval War College and Military Professor from Aug 2008 to July 2011. COL Heaney retired on 1 July 2011 with over 30 years of military service.
COL Heaney received two graduate degrees while in the service; Masters of Arts in Organizational Management, Central Michigan University (1997) and Masters of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies, U.S. Naval War College (2001). His military awards and decorations include: Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (3), Meritorious Service Medal (7), Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal (3), National Defense Service Ribbon (2), Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Expert Infantryman Badge, Army Ranger Tab, and Master Parachutist Badge.
Following his retirement, Tom settled in Middletown, Rhode Island, with his wife Wendy. In July 2001, Tom joined the U.S. Naval War College as a civilian faculty member. He has taught planning in the College of Maritime Operational Warfare, Maritime Operational Planners Course for nearly eight years. Since his retirement, Tom has been active in the URI ROTC Alumni Chapter for ten years. During that time, he has held a number of key positions on the Executive Board: Vice-President, President, and President Emeritus. Tom is a key member of the Alumni Chapter Golf Committee which has raised a significant amount of funds to support ROTC Cadet activities.
Colonel Heaney has spent his entire life serving his community and nation during peace and war. His exemplary devotion to duty, personal bravery and outstanding leadership are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, our nation and the University of Rhode Island.