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Robert Edward Galer
Robert E. Galer, Medal of Honor recipient
Born (1913-10-24)October 24, 1913
Died June 27, 2005(2005-06-27) (aged 91)
Place of birth Seattle, Washington
Place of death Dallas, Texas
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1936–1957
Rank Brigadier General
Commands held VMF-224
Marine Aircraft Group 12

World War II

Korean War
Awards Medal of Honor
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross (2)
Purple Heart
Air Medal (5)
Other work Vice President of Ling-Temco-Vought

Brigadier General Robert Edward Galer (October 24, 1913 – June 27, 2005) was a naval aviator in the United States Marine Corps who received the Medal of Honor for heroism in aerial combat during the Battle of Guadalcanal in World War II. He went on to command Marine Aircraft Group 12 during the Korean War and retired a few years after in 1957.


Early lifeEdit

Robert Galer was born in Seattle, Washington, October 24, 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.

Marine Corps careerEdit

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 U. S. Marine Corps, July 1, 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 (VMS-3) in St. Thomas. He was advanced to first lieutenant in July 1939.

World War IIEdit

First Lieutenant Galer was returned to the United States in June 1940 and in July reported to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing in San Diego, California and assigned to Marine Fighting Squadron 2 (VMF-2). On 29 August 1940, Galer ditched Grumman F3F-2, BuNo 0976, c/n 374, off the coast of San Diego while attempting a landing on the USS Saratoga (CV-3). (The fighter was rediscovered by a navy submarine in June 1988, and recovered on 5 April 1991. It was restored at the San Diego Aerospace Museum).[1] In January 1941, he was ordered to Hawaii and was appointed a captain in March 1941. Galer was serving at the Marine Corps Air Station Ewa, Oahu with Marine Fighting Squadron 211 (VMF-211) when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

In May 1942, Galer assumed command of Marine Fighting Squadron 224 (VMF-224) and on August 30, 1942 led the squadron to Guadalcanal, where they became part of the Cactus Air Force. It was while in command of VMF-224 that Galer would be credited with 11 confirmed victories and be awarded the Medal of Honor and a rare British Distinguished Flying Cross for the same acts of heroism.

Following the presentation of the Medal of Honor by President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House on March 24, 1943, Maj. Galer was ordered to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, where he served as Assistant Operations Officer. Shortly after being promoted 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, Lt. Col. Galer was named as Operations Officer, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. He served as an observer during the Palau Islands and Iwo Jima campaigns while on temporary duty from the 3rd 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 the 2nd 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 April 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 his assignment, he was promoted to colonel in March 1951.

Korean WarEdit

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 (MAG-12), and, for extraordinary achievement 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 capital city of Pyongyang."

Colonel Galer was also awarded the Legion of Merit with Combat "V" for his service in Korea. On August 5, 1952, he was shot down behind enemy lines by anti-aircraft fire while leading a flight of 31 warplanes against targets near the North Korean port city of Wonsan. He was later rescued by a HO3S-1 helicopter flown by 1st Lt. E. J. McCutcheon.[2]

After a period of hospitalization, he returned to duty at Marine Corps Air Station 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 Master's 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 on July 31, 1957.

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


Medals and decorationsEdit

A complete list of Brig. Gen. Galer's medals and decorations include:
Naval Aviator Badge
A light blue ribbon with five white five pointed stars 
Legion of Merit ribbon.svg
Gold star
Distinguished Flying Cross ribbon.svg
Purple Heart BAR.svg
Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
Air Medal ribbon.svg
Bronze star
US Navy Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon.png
Bronze star
American Defense Service ribbon.svg
American Campaign Medal ribbon.svg
Silver star
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon.svg
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg National Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg
Bronze star
Bronze star
United Kingdom Distinguished Flying Cross ribbon.svg Presidential Unit Citation (Korea).svg United Nations Service Medal Korea.png
Naval Aviator Badge
Medal of Honor Legion of Merit w/ valor device Distinguished Flying Cross w/ 1 award star
Purple Heart Air Medal w/ 4 award stars Navy Presidential Unit Citation w/ 1 service star American Defense Service Medal w/ Base clasp
American Campaign Medal Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/ 5 service stars World War II Victory Medal National Defense Service Medal
Korean Service Medal w/ 2 service stars Distinguished Flying Cross Korean Presidential Unit Citation United Nations Korea Medal

See alsoEdit


  1. Underwater Treasures
  2. Dorr, Robert F. (2005). Marine Air: The History of the Flying Leathernecks in Words and Photos. New York: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-425-20725-0. 


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