Patrick Gallagher of the Vietnam War May Receive Honors Long After Death

Lance Corporal Patrick Gallagher, Irish immigrant who served in the Marines during the Vietnam War, made himself a hero on July 18, 1966. He had come to America to seek more freedoms, but he wound up entrenched in a war which would take many American lives.

Gallagher showed himself to be a man of honor when he saved three of his fellow soldiers from an explosive attack. When several grenades were thrown at the position which Gallagher and his comrades were in charge of manning, he kicked one away and dove on another. After two others exploded, he quickly stood up and threw the one beneath him into a river nearby, narrowly missing its explosion. Gallagher received the Navy Cross for his efforts, one of the highest honors a Marine can receive.

Unfortunately, Vietnam continued to be a chaotic and dangerous place. At just 22 years of age, Gallagher was struck down in bullet fire at Da Nang, a location many Vietnam veterans and history buffs are familiar with. He sister Margaret, along with his parents, were absolutely forlorn. Not only had they lost Gallagher at a young age, but in a foreign nation which he had not inhabited for very long. In fact, over half of the time that Gallagher lived in the United States was spent in Vietnam. He had been set to leave the war just a few short weeks later had his death not occurred.

The honor demonstrated by Gallagher on that day in July has been passed on by survivors as a great example of bravery at war. Now seeking to make Gallagher’s honor more tangible, there has been a movement seeking to have the young man issues a posthumous Medal of Honor as well as naming a ship after him. The online movement to have the Navy christen a vessel after Gallagher does not specify a certain type of vessel. The petition is, in effect, its own way of bestowing honor on the fallen hero, as their goal is to gain one signature for every day since Gallagher’s passing in Vietnam, the Daily News reports.

Gallagher’s surviving family was already proud that their son received the Navy Cross, but they are immensely touched that so many other want to see him honored further. His efforts in Vietnam have not been forgotten over thirty years later, and whether or not he receives any posthumous accolades, he has clearly received honors from all those who are aware of his heroic actions.


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE