While Fort Stewart and the 3rd Infantry Division celebrate Marne Week with sports and unit spirit activities, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team took time to dedication a building for one of its former soldiers.
Robert E. Gallagher served as the command sergeant major of 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 2nd IBCT during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
He retired from the Army in 2013 after 32 years of service and died Oct. 13, 2014, at his home.
Monday afternoon, family members, friends and soldiers from 3rd ID came out to watch the unveiling of a sign outside the 3-15th’s Company Operation Facility that was to be dedicated to Gallagher.
The process for being nominated from start to finish “takes approximately six months and can take up to a year,” said Capt. Jonathan Malabre, 2nd IBCT’s information operations officer.
Gallagher was chosen because of his role in Thunder Run during Operation Iraqi Freedom with 3-15th Infantry Regiment, according to Malabre.
Dedicating the operation facility after Gallagher is significant to that battalion “because he was known for actually being down there with the soldiers,” Malabre said.
Not only did he mentor soldiers above and below him, Gallagher also was known to distribute uniforms to soldiers who had run out because they were either destroyed or bloodied, according to Malabre.
Malabre added that the dedication represents “someone that the soldiers can aspire to look up to and can strive to be.”
During the dedication, the announcer talked about the operation that earned Gallagher the Silver Star, the third-highest military combat decoration for valor, awarded for gallantry in action.
On April 7, 2003, Task Force 3-15 was assigned to seize and protect three key intersections in Baghdad.
The objectives were called Moe, Larry and Curley, which his son, Patrick Gallagher, later said his father named after the Three Stooges. They were crucial to a resupply route being used by units of 2nd IBCT.
Curley was designated to be seized and defended by 50 soldiers, including Gallagher, who was Task Force 3-15’s command sergeant major.
When they got to the intersection, there was not much resistance, but that changed as the day progressed.
“Despite intelligence assessments on the objective, Curley was heavily defended by a large amount of Syrian jihadists, who violently attacked the defensive position for 10 hours using small arms, suicide bombers, recoilless rifles, and (rocket propelled grenades) from buildings, trenches, bunkers and rubble alongside the cloverleaf intersection,” the announcer read.
At the height of the battle, about 200 Syrian fighters and Iraqi Republican Guard soldiers surrounded the team.
Gallagher was wounded by RPG shrapnel to his left leg during the battle, but he continued to fight even while receiving medical treatment.
By the end of the battle, two soldiers had been killed and about a dozen had been injured.
“Over the course of the fight, Command Sgt. Maj. Gallagher showed extreme resolve in the defense of his assigned position,” the announcer said.
He added that despite being wounded, Gallagher kept leading his soldiers and never gave up terrain that was critical to the success of the battle.
Earlier in Gallagher’s Army career with the 75th Ranger Regiment, he participated in Operation Just Cause in 1989 in Panama and Operation Gothic Serpent in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993, which was depicted in the book and movie of the same name, “Black Hawk Down,” according to the ceremony’s program.
Maj. Gen. James Rainey, the commanding general of 3rd Infantry Division, said Gallagher was a squad leader in Rainey’s first platoon in 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.
“The success, any success I’ve had with the grace of God and a great family,” Rainey said. “But next to that it’s because I was raised right as a young officer by great noncommissioned officers, and I personally count him in that company.”
Rainey said that if Gallagher could talk, he would tell them they should be out training soldiers instead of honoring him, which made the audience laugh.
Danny McKnight, a retired colonel who served with Gallagher in Panama and Mogadishu, called him an American hero, a fine leader and, most importantly, one of his best friends.
“So Bob Gallagher and I, we fought the fight together, on more than one occasion,” McKnight said. “And I will tell you that anything that I ever did right, I can look back to say in Bob Gallagher, just like (Maj.) Gen. Rainey said, had a direct influence on me, without a doubt.”
Gallagher’s son spoke about his father, saying he missed him dearly.
“Just wanted to thank everybody for everything that you’ve done for the family,” Patrick Gallagher said.
“Honoring him in this way, dedicating much less, an infantry building to him, is fitting.”
The Gallagher family, along with Rainey, unveiled the sign that noted the command sergeant major’s Silver Star and his actions in 2003 to defend Objective Curley.
After the ceremony, Patrick Gallagher said he and his family were grateful to see that his father’s legacy was going to continue in the building’s dedication.
“It’s one thing knowing that he did a lot with the military and knowing the people that he helped, but it’s another thing to have that recognized in such a formal setting,” he said. “And to read everything is touching, and I will always live with a piece of my dad in me.”