Brigadier General Robert E. Galer, USMC, (1913-2005)

Robert Edward Galer was born on 23 October 1913 in Seattle, Washington. He graduated from the University of Washington and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps from that state in July 1936. Designated a Marine Aviator in April 1937, he reported for duty with Aircraft One located at First Marine Brigade, Quantico, Virginia. Completing The Basic School at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Galer was assigned to Marine Scouting Squadron Three (VMS-3). In July 1939, he was promoted to First Lieutenant. The next summer, he was ordered to Marine Fighting Squadron Two (VMF-2), which relocated to Pearl Harbor, then Territory of Hawaii in January 1941. Two months later, he was promoted to Captain. Following the United States' entry into World War II, he commanded Marine Fighting Squadron Two Hundred Twenty Four (VMF-224). In August 1942, he was promoted to Major and participated in Battle of Guadalcanal that October. Leading daring raids, he shot down 11 enemy bombers in 29 days, with his pilots shooting down a combined total of 27 enemy planes. For his "conspicuous heroism and courage above and beyond the call of duty ," Galer was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Returning to the U.S., Galer became the Assistant Operations Officer at the Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar, California. In November 1943, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and served as the Chief of Staff of Marine Air at Pearl Harbor. In May 1944, Galer assumed duties as the Operations Officer, Third Marine Aircraft Wing and later observed the campaigns on the Palau and Iwo Jima Island. In the Spring, he became the Training Officer of the Provisional Air Support Command, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific. In June, he was ordered to Marine Barracks, Naval Air Training Base, Corpus Christi, Texas. After training at the Armed Forces Staff College at Norfolk, Virginia, in June 1948, he received orders to the Second Marine Aircraft Wing at Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, North Carolina. In April 1950, he transferred to Naval Air Station, San Diego, California, and served on the Staff of Commander, Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. In March 1951, he was promoted to Colonel.

In March 1952, during the Korean War, Galer became the Assistant Chief of Staff to the First Marine Aircraft Wing (1st MAW) then transferred to command Marine Aircraft Group Twelve (MAG-12). In August, he was shot down behind enemy lines while leading a flight of 31 warplanes against targets near Wonsan but was later rescued. Upon recuperating, he received orders in October to Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro, California. Galer then completed studies at Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Alabama. In June 1954, he became the Assistant Director of the Guided Missiles Division at the Bureau of Aeronautics in Washington, D.C. and later served as the Acting Director. While in Washington D.C., he was awarded a Masters Degree in Engineering Administration in the summer of 1955 from George Washington University. In July 1957, he retired and was promoted to Brigadier General on the retired list. Robert E. Galer died on 27 June 2005 and is buried at Texas State Cemetery, Austin, Texas.

This page features the only image we have concerning Robert E. Galer.

Photo #: NH 106145

Major Robert E. Galer, USMC

Halftone reproduction of a photograph, copied from the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 190.
Galer was awarded the Medal of Honor for his service as Squadron Leader of Marine Fighting Squadron Two Hundred Twenty Four (VMF-224) during aerial combat missions against Japanese forces at the Solomon Islands, October 1942. Leading daring raids, he shot down 11 enemy bombers in 29 days, with his pilots shooting down a combined total of 27 enemy planes.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph

Online Image: 74KB; 580 x 765 pixels


Medal of Honor citation of Major Robert Edward Galer, USMC (as printed in the official publication "Medal of Honor, 1861-1949, The Navy", page 190):

"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, Major 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 forces. 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."

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