The Museum Mourns Bob Gallagher
Fair Winds and Following Seas
Navy SEAL and hero of the Vietnam War, Robert T. Gallagher, famously known as “The Eagle”, passed away at the age of 83 in Vero Beach, Florida. Bob was a legendary member of SEAL Team TWO making five combat tours to Vietnam. He was awarded the Navy Cross, The Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and five Purple Hearts. His legacy of valor, determination, and dedication to his Teammates exemplifies the SEAL warrior ethos.
Bob was born in Naugatuck, Connecticut in 1938 into a solidly middle-class, Catholic family. He had two sisters and a brother. His mother died when he was young, and he was raised by a kindly aunt.
He was a national-level, competitive swimmer in high school. Intelligent and an excellent student, he was a candidate for a good New England University. However, the WW II movie “Frogman” captured his imagination, and after high school, he volunteered for the Navy.
He joined UDT Replacement Training Class 17 in the winter of 1956. A classic, wicked East-Coast winter class that graduated only 14 of the 50 starting students.
Assigned to UDT 21, Bob’s technical savvy and seriousness earned him a fast promotion as an Interior Communication Technician and training as an Explosive Ordnance Technician.
Bob’s next assignment was to SEAL Team TWO. Promoted to CPO, he led one of the SEALs’ first Mobile Training Teams. This MTT trained the first group of Turkish Navy SEALs. Bob is still remembered by the Turkish SEALs for his contributions as their founder.
In 1966, Bob was in the first SEAL Team TWO combat Platoon deployed to the Mekong Delta. This was his first of five deployments, including one as a PRU advisor.
Bob’s combat achievements were unprecedented. When not deployed to Vietnam, Bob led the Team’s pre-deployment training to ensure the new guys were ready for combat.
Bob was commissioned as a Warrant Officer and served as Division Officer on a CVN and as an instructor at the EOD school. He returned to SEAL Team TWO for his final tour and retirement.
In retirement , Bob dedicated himself to developing the UDT/SEAL Association.
Bob leaves behind his wife and two sons, a generation of admiring SEAL Teammates, and an example of the SEAL warrior for generations to come.
“I was a newly reported LT(jg) FNG at ST 2 when Bob Gallagher checked back on board after having served a mandatory tour in the fleet after being commissioned a Warrant Officer. CO’s Bruce Van Heertum and then Tom Lawson appropriately made him the ST 2 Training Officer and put him in charge of SEAL Basic Indoc where he trained me and others with the patience, wisdom and professionalism of a confident old warrior.
What surprised me however, was that the stories he seemed to enjoy most telling us new guys were not about Vietnam, but about how amazed he was, and how much he learned in his time serving as a WO on an aircraft carrier after leaving the Teams. He shared how impressed he was with the people and leaders he served with, and how they took their jobs seriously, did their difficult jobs well and professionally, and did not suffer fools lightly. He had obviously attained stature and credibility on the carrier and eventually became an advisor to the CMC and the CO of the ship, and was often called upon for his advice.
About 10 years later when I was serving at SEAL Team TWO again, under Rick Woolard and Bob Rieve, Bob would come by occasionally to see Rudy and check on us. He once shared with me that he was a bit concerned that his Team seemed to have devolved from a bunch hard drinking, bare-knuckle brawling fighters, into a bunch of health-food-eating, spandex-wearing triathletes. I hope that in his last years, he was proud of how his boys performed in Iraq and Afghanistan (in spite of the spandex), doing honor to his legacy as one of our greatest SEAL warriors. RIP, Eagle.”
-Bob Schoultz, Bob Gallagher’s Teammate and former CNSWG 2