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First Name: Robert

Last Name: Galer

Birthplace: Seattle, WA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: Edward

Date of Birth: 24 October 1913

Date of Death: 27 June 2005

Rank: Brigadier General

Years Served:
Robert Edward Galer

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)
•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)


Robert Edward Galer
Brigadier General, U.S. Marine Corps
Medal of Honor Recipient
World War II

Brigadier General Robert Edward Galer (24 October 1913 - 27 June 2005) was a U.S. Marine Corps officer and aviator who received the Medal of Honor for heroism in aerial combat during the Battle of Guadalcanal in World War II.

Robert Edward Galer was born on 24 October 1913 in Seattle, WA. 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 Aviation Cadet flight training at the Naval Air Station Pensacola, FL, and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U. S. Marine Corps on 1 July 1936.

Marine Corps Career

Following his designation as a Naval Aviator in April 1937, he was transferred to the 1st Marine Brigade in Quantico, VA, 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, PA. 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 II

First Lieutenant Galer was returned to the U.S. in June 1940 and in July reported to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing in San Diego, CA, 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). 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 7 December 1941.

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

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Major, U.S. Marine Corps, Marine Fighter Sqdn. 244.

Place: Solomon Islands Area.

Citation: 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. Leading his squadron repeatedly in daring and aggressive raids against Japanese aerial forces, vastly superior in numbers, Maj. Galer availed himself of every favorable attack opportunity, individually shooting down 11 enemy bomber and fighter aircraft 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 Maj. Galer's gallant fighting spirit and upon the U.S. Naval Service.

Following the presentation of the Medal of Honor by President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House on 24 March 1943, Major Galer was ordered to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, 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, 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 U.S. in June 1945 and reported to the Marine Barracks, Naval Air Training Base, Corpus Christi, TX, 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, VA.

In June 1948, he reported to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, at the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, NC, where he served as Operations and Training Officer. He joined Headquarters Squadron-2 at that station in April 1949 and was transferred on 26 April 1950 to the Naval Air Station San Diego, CA. 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 War

Colonel Galer sailed for Korea in March 1952, 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 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 capital city of Pyongyang."

Colonel Galer was also awarded the Legion of Merit with Combat "V" for his service in Korea. On 5 August 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 1stLt E.J. McCutcheon.

After a period of hospitalization, he returned to duty at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, CA, 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, AL, in July 1953. Upon graduation from the College the following June, he was transferred to Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, DC, 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 in Washington, DC.

For exceptionally meritorious service in combat, he was advanced to Brigadier General upon his retirement on 31 July 1957.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Legion of Merit with 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 (Britain)
Korean Presidential Unit Citation
United Nations Korea Medal

Naval Aviator Badge

Death and Burial

Brigadier General Robert Edward Galer died on 27 June 2005 in Dallas, TX. He is buried at Texas State Cemetery in Austin, Travis County, TX, in Monument Hill, Section 1, Row B, Number 13.

Honoree ID: 1400   Created by: MHOH




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