GALER, ROBERT EDWARD (1913~2005) Brigadier General Robert Edward Galer, a combat aviator and holder of the Nation's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for heroism in aerial combat during the Guadalcanal campaign of World War II, was promoted to the rank of brigadier general upon his retirement, July 31, 1957. At the time of his retirement, he was serving in Washington, D. C., as Assistant Director, Guided Missiles Division, Bureau of Aeronautics, Department of the Navy. General Galer, then a major, was awarded the Medal of Honor on March 24, 1943, by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The citation accompanying the medal described his heroism as follows:
"For conspicuous heroism and courage above and beyond the call of duty as Leader of a Marine Fighter Squadron 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 eleven enemy bomber and fighter aircraft over a period of twenty-nine 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 twenty-seven 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 Services."
The general was born in Seattle, Washington, October 23, 1913, and graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in commercial engineering in 1935. While at the University of Washington, Galer was an All-American basketball player and is in the Husky Hall of Fame, the State of Washington Hall of Fame, and the NCAA Hall of Fame. After graduating, 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, July 1, 1936. Following his designation as a Naval Aviator in April 1937, he was transferred to the First Marine Brigade at 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 at 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 at St. Thomas. He was advanced to first lieutenant in July 1939.
Lieutenant Galer returned to the United States in June 1940, and in July reported to the Second 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 December 7, 1941. In May 1942, he assumed command of Marine Fighting Squadron-224. It was while in command of the 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 the President at the White House, Major 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, Lieutenant Colonel Galer was named as Operations Officer, Third Marine Aircraft Wing. He served as an observer during the Falani Islands campaign, while on temporary duty from the Third Marine Aircraft Wing. His next assignment found him as Training Officer of Provisional Air Support Command, Fleet Marine Force Pacific.
Colonel Avery Kier and Lieutenant Colonel Galer trained three LFASCU's and shipped them out on three different ships as directed. Later Colonels Kier and Galer were ordered to join Team 1 at Ulithe. Team 1 landed on D-day at Iwo Jima, along with Kier and Galer. They were there when the flag was raised. Team 1 was established and working, and Colonels Kier and Galer climbed Surabachi to see the flag established. After 30 days, they were directed to catch an airplane for the Philippines. They landed behind the lines and joined Team 2, coming ashore on D-day. They went on into Manila where they set up Team 2. After 30 days, they were directed to return to Ulithe and join Team 3. Team 3 went into Okinawa on D-day. Colonels Kier and Galer participated in three D-days in 65 days.
Lieutenant Colonel Galer again returned to the United States in June 1945, and in July he reported to the Marine Barracks Naval Air Training Base Corpus Christi, Texas, 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 Air Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, North Carolina, where he served as Operations and Training Officer. He joined Headquarters Squadrons-2 at that station in April 1949, and was transferred Aril 26, 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 this 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, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing there and for extraordinary on July 11, 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 Pyongyang." Colonel Galer was also awarded the Legion of Merit with Combat "V" for his service in Korea from May 24 to August 5, 1952, when he was shot down behind enemy lines by antiaircraft 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, July 31, 1957. A complete list of General Galer's medals and decorations include: the Medal of Honor, Navy Cross, Legion of Merit with Combat "V" 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.
After retirement from the military, General Galer moved to Dallas and worked for LTV and also in the real estate business. He was a member of the Medal of Honor Society, Legion of Valor, American Fighter Aces, Golden Eagles, and Former Commander Marine Corps Aviation Association.
Brigadier General Robert Edward Galer passed away on June 27, 2005, and was buried with full military honors at the Texas State Cemetery five days later. He is survived by his wife, Sharon Galer. He is also survived by his brother, Fred Galer and wife Vera; sons, Robert Tipton Galer and wife Kimberly, Vincent Hall Galer, Charles Keller and wife Teri, and daughter Christine Brooks and husband Gary. He is also survived by six grandchildren, Samantha Galer, Vincent Galer, Hank Keller, Katie Brooks, Robert Brooks and Clint Keller.
Information provided by Mrs. Galer and his obituary, which was published in the Dallas Morning News on Wednesday, June 29, 2005.