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Welcome to the destroyer USS Patrick Gallagher (DDG 127) official webpage.


Patrick “Bob” Gallagher (pronounced GAL-a-her) was born February 1st, 1944 and grew up on the family farm at Derrintogher (near Ballyhaunis) in County Mayo, Ireland. He was the second of nine children, and the eldest son, of Peter and Mary Gallagher. His sister Margaret was too young to properly pronounce “Patrick,” so “Bob” came in its place and stuck throughout his life. Having higher ambitions than the local economy allowed for, he moved to the United States in 1962, at age eighteen. Settling in with an aunt in Lynnhaven, on Long Island, New York, he worked in real estate and property management while studying law. Gallagher was interested in politics and worked on the 1964 senatorial campaign of Robert F. Kennedy, who was an admired member of the Irish-American community. 

Also in 1964, on the other side of the world, the U.S. was involved in the conflict in Vietnam. The Gulf of Tonkin incident led to a resolution in Congress directing the escalation of the war in Vietnam, and therefore an increase in draft requirements. Green card holders were eligible for the draft, and Gallagher was selected. The Vietnam War was not popular in the U.S., but even less so in Ireland. Gallagher’s sisters in the U.S. tried to persuade him to simply return home to Ireland and avoid wartime service, but he was not interested in that option. Gallagher was excited to become a U.S. Marine and to serve the country that was his new home. That is exactly what he did, enlisting November 5th, 1965. He returned to Ireland for three weeks to see his family, but he told no one else he would soon be fighting in Vietnam, and he kept his sisters sworn to secrecy. He could have stayed in Ireland, but Gallagher was committed to the U.S. and the Marine Corps. His mantra was “life is for living, be brave and be bold.” This is the last time he would see his family. 

It was February 1966 when Gallagher was at the family home in Ireland. In April he was in Vietnam with Company H of 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, conducting Operation Hastings. On July 18th he was in a forward position at Cam Lo, near the North Vietnamese border. In the middle of the night, Gallagher was with the three other Marines on his fire team, who were asleep, when an enemy grenade landed nearby. Gallagher quickly reacted and kicked it away where it safely exploded. Another enemy grenade landed, and he unhesitatingly and heroically covered it with his body to absorb the explosion and save his team. Miraculously, the grenade did not explode. After the three other Marines moved to a safe distance, despite two more grenades exploding nearby, Gallagher threw the grenade he was covering into a river where it immediately exploded. Nobody was harmed. 

It was for this heroic action that on February 19th , 1967, Gallagher received the Navy Cross, the second highest military award, which was presented by General William Westmoreland, Commander of U.S. Forces in Vietnam (and later Chief of Staff of the Army). He was also meritoriously promoted to corporal. Gallagher was told that he would have easily received a Medal of Honor had the attack been fatal. In fact, his battalion did submit a Medal of Honor citation, but it was downgraded to a Navy Cross by higher authority which gave the reason that he survived the attack. However, there has never been a requirement to die to receive the medal, but rather that a servicemember “distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty” (10 U.S. Code § 7271). Corporal Gallagher certainly distinguished himself in such a fashion, and efforts remain underway to honor Gallagher with the nation’s highest award. 

At the time of his award presentation, Gallagher’s family was still unaware he was in Vietnam. He knew media coverage would soon reach home so he wrote a letter to confess his secret, saying, “I have been in Vietnam since April ‘66. I will be leaving here in about 60 days. Now don’t get worried, everything is going just fine here. I am enjoying it very much. I had planned not to tell you until I got back to the U.S.” Describing his actions that earned him the Navy Cross, Gallagher humbly said, “It was not much, but they made a big thing of it.” News of the war hero was received enthusiastically in Ireland and a grand celebration was planned for Gallagher’s homecoming. 

On March 30th, 1967, only almost six weeks after receiving the Navy Cross, and the day before he was scheduled to leave Vietnam, Gallagher volunteered (as he had many times before) to join a patrol when his team was to provide security for local rice farmers under threat of attack in DaLoc, near Da Nang. Viet Cong forces ambushed Gallagher and his team killing him and seven others. After almost a year in Vietnam this was to be his last patrol, and it was, but with a tragic ending at the age of twenty-three. April 14th was supposed to be the day of his homecoming celebration in Ireland, but he was buried that day instead.  |  |  Navy FOIA  |  DoD Accessibility/Section 508  |  No Fear Act   |  Open Government  |  Plain Writing Act  |  Veterans Crisis Line  |  VA Vet Center  |  FVAP  |  DoD Safe Helpline  |  Navy SAPR  |  NCIS Tips  |  Privacy Policy  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us   |  988 Helpline
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