When you hear the name Patrick ‘Bob’ Gallagher what is the first thing that pops into your head? To some, the name Patrick Gallagher mightn’t mean anything, it might be just another name you’d hear on the street, but to the Irish small town of Ballyhaunis in Co. Mayo and to a petition of over 2000 signatures, when you say the name Patrick Gallagher they think of one word. ‘Hero’, and rightly so.
Why do so many regard him as a hero? Patrick Gallagher, nickname Bob, like so many others, served as a Corporal in the US Marine Corp in Vietnam. In Vietnam, Patrick was faced with a situation that no one should ever have to face. Grenades landed in the trench where Patrick and his unit were sheltering. Patrick kicked the first grenade clear and then he threw himself on a second grenade to save his comrades from certain death. When his comrades had reached safety, Patrick then threw the grenade away from the trench - it exploded seconds later. Patrick was awarded with the Navy Cross to reward his heroic actions. His citation included the following comment, “Through his extraordinary heroism and inspiring valor in the face of almost certain death, he saved his comrades from probable injury and possible loss of life." Patrick, who had kept his Vietnam service secret from his parents back in Ireland, wrote home to inform them of his Navy Cross, as the story was attracting media attention both at home and abroad. He assured them that he was fine and not to worry. However, the story does not end there. Approximately 3000 Irish immigrants served in Vietnam and Patrick was one of 29 Irish citizens killed there. Tragically, on 30th March 1967, he was killed shortly before he was due to leave Vietnam. He was 23. Fellow Marine, Frank G Erwin, was beside the Mayo man when he was killed. 'His death,' Erwin later wrote, 'was a profound loss to our entire company, as everyone looked to Patrick for courage in battle'.
His remains were flown home and the town of Ballyhaunis came to a silent and sorrowful halt as the funeral cortege, with the casket draped in the US flag, proceeded through the town. The Gallagher family was united in grief at the graveside with the parents of two other Mayo men who died in Vietnam. Patrick had campaigned for Senator Bobby Kennedy, and a letter from him was read aloud at Patrick’s funeral in Ballyhaunis.
On a wider scale, to honor Patrick’s bravery and service to his adopted homeland, there is currently a petition to have a US Navy ship named after him. The ship is due to be commissioned in 2017 and this would mark the 50th anniversary of this remarkable hero’s death. The petition recently passed the 2000 mark. This campaign, which has been mainly through word of mouth, has received amazing support. The petition organizers hope to reach 5000 signatures before the end of 2015.
Patrick Gallagher selflessly jumped on a grenade to save his comrades. All you are asked to do is to please sign this ipetition by clicking on the link below: www.ipetitions.com/petition/patrickgallagher.
Please support this campaign and spread the story via word of mouth social media. Every signature counts.