b. 24/10/1913 Seattle, Washington. d. 27/06/2005 Dallas, Texas.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 1942-43 Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
Robert Galer 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 U. S. 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 (VMS-3) in St. Thomas. He was advanced to first lieutenant in July 1939.
In May 1942, Galer assumed command of Marine Fighting Squadron 224 (VMF-224) and on 30 August 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 24 March 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.
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 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 1st Lt. E. J. McCutcheon.
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 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 on 31 July 1957.
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.
BURIAL LOCATION: TEXAS STATE CEMETERY, AUSTIN, TEXAS.
Plot: Monument Hill, Section 1, Row B, Number 13