A campaign to have a U.S. Navy ship named after a County Mayo-born Vietnam War hero is going to need additional bigger boats.
Patrick Gallagher was killed on his last day in Vietnam, March 30, 1967.
His hometown of Ballyhaunis has announced that Patrick Gallagher Memorial Day will be held on March 30, 2017, the fiftieth anniversary of Gallagher’s death.
The commemoration will come against the backdrop of a petition drive that, to date, has raised over 7,000 signatures through a combination of online and traditional methods.
A film documentary on the Gallagher story has also been completed.
The goal is to have 10,000 signatures by the end of 2017, said Martin Durkan, who hails from Mayo, though is now a resident of California.
The petition requests that the Secretary of the Navy consider naming a U.S. destroyer in Gallagher’s honor.
The current type of destroyer that forms the backbone of the navy is the Arleigh Burke Class. The ships come with designated “DDG” numbers. The USS Arleigh Burke, launched in 1989 and commissioned in 1991, is numbered DDG-51.
The original plan for the Arleigh Burke Class envisioned a run of ships up to DDG-112. DDG-112 is the USS Michael Murphy, named after Congressional Medal of Honor winning NAVY SEAL Michael Murphy from Long Island.
Murphy gave his life for his comrades in Afghanistan, his heroism depicted in the movie “Lone Survivor.”
While the USS Michael Murphy – launched in 2011 and commissioned the following year - was supposed to be the last DDG, the navy extended the program up to DDG 126.
At this point, all the DDGs up to 126 have been assigned names.
But, and pending congressional spending approval, a DDG 127 is now expected to be built.
And, as of now, it has no assigned name.
Backers of the Patrick Gallagher petition will be hoping that this is the ship that ultimately bears the Mayo hero’s name.
But if that turns out not to be, there is another and hugely significant factor looming over the horizon: President Donald Trump.
Mr. Trump wants a bigger navy.
On the campaign trail he advocated an increase in overall fleet size from 272 ships of all types to 350, a significant expansion.
If the fleet is reinforced the new ships won’t all be destroyers, but some of them will be.
So the Gallagher petition should have a future even if Patrick’s name doesn’t end up on the hull of a DDG-127.
Gallagher won the Navy Cross for heroism in Vietnam, but was shot dead while on Patrol in Da Nang on March 30, 1967, his final day “in country.”
The petition effort has been led by Martin Durkan, and Dallas, Texas-based Dublin native, Marius Donnelly.
“Patrick was one of at least 31 Irish citizens, mostly green card holders, who died during the Vietnam War,” said Durkan.
“Should the USS Patrick Gallagher sail, then it will sail for all 31,” he said.
More on Patrick “Bob” Gallagher and the campaign to have a ship named after him at www.patrickgallagherusmc.info