The Marine Corps Medal of Honor Recipients

Featuring Marine Medal of Honor Recipients From WWII-Korea-Viet Nam And Iraqi Freedom
Honor-Courage-Commitment

ROBERT E. GALER
Major
United States Marine Corp
Robert Galer

 

Citation

Major Robert E. Galer
United States Marine Corp

For conspicuous heroism and courage above and beyond the call of duty as Leader of Marine Fighting Squadron TWOTWENTY-FOUR in aerial combat with enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands Area, August-September 1942. Leading his squadron repeatedly in daring and aggressive raids against Japanese aerial forces, vastly superior in numbers,Major Galer availed himself of every favorable attack opportunity, individually shooting down 11 enemy bomber and fighteraircraft over a period of 29 days. Though suffering the extreme physical strain attendant upon protracted fighter operations at an altitude above 25,000 feet, the squadron under his zealous and inspiring leadership, shot down a total of 27 Japanese planes. His superb airmanship, his outstanding skill and personal valor reflect great credit upon Major Galer's gallant fighting spirit and upon the United States Naval Service.

 FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT
President of the United States

Robert Edward Galer, a combat aviator and Medal of Honor recipient for heroism in aerial combat during the Guadalcanal campaign of World War II, was born in Seattle, Washington, 24 October 1913. He attended the University of Washington and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in commercial engineering in 1935, at which time he began elimination flight training at the Naval Reserve Aviation Base, Seattle. In June 1936, he began his Aviation Cadet flight training at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps, 1 July 1936.

Following his designation as a Naval Aviator in April 1937, he was transferred to the 1st Marine Brigade in Quantico, Virginia, for duty with Aircraft One. In July of the same year he was assigned to a course of instruction at the Basic School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Following the completion of his studies in June 1938, he was ordered to the New York Navy Yard, but shortly thereafter was transferred to the Virgin Islands where he served with Marine Scouting Squadron-3 in St. Thomas. He was advanced to first lieutenant in July 1939.

First Lieutenant Galer was returned to the United States in June 1940 and in July reported to the 2d Marine Aircraft Wing in San Diego, California. In January 1941, he was ordered to Hawaii and was appointed a captain in March 1941. He was serving at the Marine Corps Air Station, Ewa, Oahu, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.

In May 1942, he assumed command of Marine Fighting Squadron-224. It was while in command of this unit that he received the Nation's highest award, shortly after his promotion to the rank of major. He also received the British Distinguished Flying Cross for the same act of heroism.

Following the presentation of the Medal of Honor by President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House on 24 March 1943, Maj Galer was ordered to Marine Forces, Air, West Coast, Miramar, California, where he served as Assistant Operations Officer. Shortly after advancement to the rank of lieutenant colonel in November 1943, he was ordered to return to the Hawaiian Islands, where he became Chief of Staff, Marine Air, Hawaiian Area.

In May 1944, LtCol Galer was named as Operations Officer, 3d Marine Aircraft Wing. He served as an observer during the Palau Islands campaign while on temporary duty from the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing. His next assignment found him as Training Officer of Provisional Air Support Command, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific.

He again returned to the United States in June 1945 and reported to the Marine Barracks, Naval Air Training Base, Corpus Christi, Texas, in July as officer in charge of a cadet regiment. He remained in that capacity until August 1947, at which time he was assigned as a student at the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia.

In June 1948, he reported to Marine Aircraft Wing, at the Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, North Carolina, where he served as Operations and Training Officer. He joined Headquarters Squadron-2 at that station in April 1949 and was transferred 26 April 1950 to the Naval Air Station, San Diego, California. He served there as Marine Planning Officer and, later, as Assistant Chief of Staff for Plans, on the Staff of the Commander, Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. During his assignment, he was promoted to colonel in March 1951.

Colonel Galer sailed in March 1952 for Korea, where he saw duty as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4 (Supply), of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing until the following May. He was then named Commanding Officer of Marine Aircraft Group 12, and, for extraordinary achievement on 11 July 1952 was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a second Distinguished Flying Cross. According to the citation accompanying this medal, he "led a maximum effort strike of Marine attack aircraft against a heavily defended industrial area in the North Korean capitol city of Pyongyang."

Colonel Galer was also awarded the Legion of Merit with Combat "V" for his service in Korea from 24 May to 5 August 1952, when he was shot down behind enemy lines by anti-aircraft fire and later rescued by helicopter.

After a period of hospitalization, he returned to duty at El Toro, California, in October 1952, as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-1 (Personnel), and later, G-3 (Operations), of Aircraft, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific. He was enrolled as a student in the Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Alabama, in July 1953. Upon graduation from the College the following June, he was transferred to Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, D.C., where he became Assistant Director, Guided Missiles Division, Bureau of Aeronautics, Department of the Navy. He served in that capacity until January 1956, when he became Acting Director. The following June he was awarded a Masters Degree in Engineering Administration from the George Washington University, Washington, D.C.

For exceptionally meritorious service in combat, he was advanced to brigadier general upon his retirement, 31 July 1957.

Brigadier General Galer passed away on 27 June 2005 in Dallas, Texas.

A complete list of BGen Galer's medals and decorations include the Medal of Honor, Legion of Merit with Combat "V", Distinguished Flying Cross with one Gold Star, Air Medal with four Gold Stars, Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation with one bronze star, American Defense Service Medal with Base Clasp, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one silver star, American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal with two bronze stars, United Nations Service Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross (British Award), and the Korean Presidential Unit Citation.

 

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