February 25, 2014

Robert Edward Galer (1913-2005)

Brigadier General Robert Edward Galer, a combat aviator and holder of the Nation's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, was born in Seattle, Washington, October 23, 1913, and graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in commercial engineering in 1935. While at the University of Washington, Galer was an All-American basketball player and is in the Husky Hall of Fame, the State of Washington Hall of Fame, and the NCAA Hall of Fame. After graduating, he began elimination flight training at the Naval Reserve Aviation Base, Seattle. In June 1936, he began his Aviation Cadet flight training at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps, July 1, 1936. Following his designation as a Naval Aviator in April 1937, he was transferred to the First Marine Brigade at Quantico, Virginia, for duty with Aircraft One. In July of the same year he was assigned to a course of instruction at the Basic School at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Following the completion of his studies in June 1938, he was ordered to the New York Navy Yard, but shortly thereafter was transferred to the Virgin Islands where he served with Marine Scouting Squadron-3 at St. Thomas. He was advanced to first lieutenant in July 1939. Lieutenant Galer returned to the United States in June 1940, and in July reported to the Second Marine Aircraft Wing in San Diego, California.

In January 1941, he was ordered to Hawaii and was appointed a captain in March 1941. He was serving at the Marine Corps Air Station, Ewa, Oahu, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. In May 1942, he assumed command of Marine Fighting Squadron-224. It was while in command of the unit that he received the Nation's highest award, shortly after his promotion to the rank of major. He also received the British Distinguished Flying Cross for the same act of heroism. Following the presentation of the Medal of Honor by the President at the White House, Major Galer was ordered to Marine Forces, Air West Coast, Miramar, California, where he served as assistant Operations Officer. Shortly after advancement to the rank of lieutenant colonel in November 1943, he was ordered to return to the Hawaiian Islands, where he became Chief of Staff Marine Air Hawaiian Area. In May 1944, Lieutenant Colonel Galer was named as Operations Officer, Third Marine Aircraft Wing. He served as an observer during the Falani Islands campaign, while on temporary duty from the Third Marine Aircraft Wing. His next assignment found him as Training Officer of Provisional Air Support Command, Fleet Marine Force Pacific. Colonel Avery Kier and Lieutenant Colonel Galer trained three LFASCU's and shipped them out on three different ships as directed. Later Colonels Kier and Galer were ordered to join Team 1 at Ulithe. Team 1 landed on D-day at Iwo Jima, along with Kier and Galer. They were there when the flag was raised. Team 1 was established and working, and Colonels Kier and Galer climbed Surabachi to see the flag established.

After 30 days, they were directed to catch an airplane for the Philippines. They landed behind the lines and joined Team 2, coming ashore on D-day. They went on into Manila where they set up Team 2. After 30 days, they were directed to return to Ulithe and join Team 3. Team 3 went into Okinawa on D-day. Colonels Kier and Galer participated in three D-days in 65 days. Lieutenant Colonel Galer again returned to the United States in June 1945, and in July he reported to the Marine Barracks Naval Air Training Base Corpus Christi, Texas, as officer in charge of a cadet regiment. He remained in that capacity until August 1947, at which time he was assigned as a student at the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia. In June 1948, he reported to Marine Aircraft Wing at the Marine Air Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, North Carolina, where he served as Operations and Training Officer. He joined Headquarters Squadrons-2 at that station in April 1949, and was transferred April 26, 1950, to the Naval Air Station San Diego, California. He served there as Marine Planning Officer and, later as Assistant Chief of Staff for Plans, on the Staff of the Commander, Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. During this assignment he was promoted to colonel in March 1951. Colonel Galer sailed in March 1952, for Korea where he saw duty as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4 (Supply), of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, until the following May. He was then named Commanding Officer of Marine Aircraft Group 12, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing there and for extraordinary on July 11, 1952, was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a second Distinguished Flying Cross. According to the citation accompanying this medal he "led a maximum effort strike of Marine attack aircraft against a heavily defended industrial area in the North Korean capitol city Pyongyang." Colonel Galer was also awarded the Legion of Merit with Combat "V" for his service in Korea from May 24 to August 5, 1952, when he was shot down behind enemy lines by antiaircraft fire and later rescued by helicopter.

After a period of hospitalization, he returned to duty at El Toro, California in October 1952, as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-1 (Personnel) and later, G-3 (Operations) of Aircraft Fleet Marine Force Pacific. He was enrolled as a student in the Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Alabama in July 1953. Upon graduation from the college the following June, he was transferred to Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, D.C., where he became Assistant Director, Guided Missiles Division, Bureau of Aeronautics, Department of the Navy. He served in that capacity until January 1956, when he became Acting Director. The following June he was awarded a Masters degree in Engineering Administration from the George Washington University, Washington, D.C. For exceptionally meritorious service in combat, he was advanced to brigadier general upon his retirement, July 31, 1957. A complete list of General Galer's medals and decorations include: the Medal of Honor, Navy Cross, Legion of Merit with Combat "V" Stars, Purple Heart, Presidential Unit Citation with one bronze star, American Defense Service Medal with Base Clasp, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one silver star, American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal with two bronze stars, United Nations Service Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross (British Award), and the Korean Presidential Unit citation. After retirement from the military, General Galer moved to Dallas and worked for LTV and also in the real estate business. He was a member of the Medal of Honor Society, Legion of Valor, American Fighter Aces, Golden Eagles, and Former Commander Marine Corps Aviation Association. Brigadier General Robert Edward Galer passed away on June 27, 2005, and was buried with full military honors at the Texas State Cemetery five days later. Source 

For conspicuous heroism and courage above and beyond the call of duty as leader of a marine fighter squadron in aerial combat with enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands area. Leading his squadron repeatedly in daring and aggressive raids against Japanese aerial forces, vastly superior in numbers, Maj. Galer availed himself of every favorable attack opportunity, individually shooting down 11 enemy bomber and fighter aircraft over a period of 29 days. Though suffering the extreme physical strain attendant upon protracted fighter operations at an altitude above 25,000 feet, the squadron under his zealous and inspiring leadership shot down a total of 27 Japanese planes. His superb airmanship, his outstanding skill and personal valor reflect great credit upon Maj. Galer's gallant fighting spirit and upon the U.S. Naval Service.

30° 15.971
-097° 43.572

Monument Hill
Texas State Cemetery

February 18, 2014

Donald Ray Massengale (1937-2007)

Born April 23, 1937 in Jacksboro, Texas, Don Massengale started playing golf while at attending Texas Christian University and hit the amateur golf circuit at the age of 21, when he entered and won the Texas Amateur Championship in 1958. After turning pro in 1960, he was regularly rated highly on the competitive roster, finishing among the top-60 money winners on the PGA Tour in 1962, 1966 and 1967. In 1966 he won two tournaments on the PGA tour, first at the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am (January 23) and later that year at the Canadian Open (October 2). Through the 1970s onward, Massengale worked as a club pro in the Houston area in between his PGA and Senior PGA Tournaments. During this period, he won the Senior PGA Tour twice, as well as the Greater Grand Rapids Open in 1990 and the Royal Caribbean Classic in 1992. Massengale died of a heart attack on January 2, 2007 in Conroe, Texas.

30° 21.068
-095° 28.768

Garden Park Cemetery

February 11, 2014

Benjamin McCulloch (1811-1862)

Ben McCulloch, Indian fighter, Texas Ranger, United States marshal, and brigadier general in the Army of the Confederate States of America, was born in Rutherford County, Tennessee, on November 11, 1811, the fourth son of Alexander and Frances F. (LeNoir) McCulloch. His mother was the daughter of a prominent Virginia planter, and his father, a graduate of Yale College, was a major on Brig. Gen. John Coffee's staff during Andrew Jackson's campaign against the Creeks in Alabama. Ben was also the elder brother of Henry Eustace McCulloch. The McCullochs had been a prosperous and influential colonial North Carolina family but had lost much of their wealth as a result of the Revolutionary War and the improvidence of Alexander McCulloch, who so wasted his inheritance that he was unable to educate his younger sons. Two of Ben's older brothers briefly attended school taught by a close neighbor and family friend in Tennessee, Sam Houston. Like many families on the western frontier, the McCullochs moved often-from North Carolina to eastern Tennessee to Alabama and back to western Tennessee between 1812 and 1830. They settled at last near Dyersburg, Tennessee, where David Crockett was among their closest neighbors and most influential friends. After five years of farming, hunting, and rafting, but virtually no formal schooling, Ben agreed to follow Crockett to Texas, planning to meet him in Nacogdoches on Christmas Day, 1835. Ben and Henry arrived too late, however, and Ben followed Crockett alone toward San Antonio. When sickness from measles prevented him from reaching the Alamo before its fall, McCulloch joined Houston's army on its retreat into East Texas. At the battle of San Jacinto he commanded one of the famed Twin Sisters and won from Houston a battlefield commission as first lieutenant.

He soon left the army, however, to earn his living as a surveyor in the Texas frontier communities of Gonzales and Seguin. He then joined the Texas Rangers and, as first lieutenant under John Coffee Hays, won a considerable reputation as an Indian fighter. In 1839 McCulloch was elected to the House of Representatives of the Republic of Texas in a campaign marred by a rifle duel with Reuben Ross. In the affray McCulloch received a wound that partially crippled his right arm for the rest of his life. On Christmas Day of that year Henry McCulloch killed Ross in a pistol duel in Gonzales. Ben chose not to stand for reelection in 1842 but returned to surveying and the pursuit of a quasi-military career. At the battle of Plum Creek on August 12, 1840, he distinguished himself as a scout and as commander of the right wing of the Texas army. In February 1842, when the Mexican government launched a raid against Texas that seized the strategic town of San Antonio, McCulloch rendered invaluable service by scouting enemy positions and taking a prominent role in the fighting that harried Rafael Vásquez's raiders back below the Rio Grande. On September 11, 1842, a second Mexican expedition captured San Antonio. McCulloch again did valuable scouting service and joined in the pursuit of Adrián Woll's invading troops to the Hondo River, where Hays's rangers engaged them on September 21. After the repulse of the second Mexican invasion, McCulloch remained with the ranger company that formed the nucleus of an army with which the Texans planned to invade Mexico. The so-called Somervell expedition was poorly managed, however, and Ben and Henry left it on the Rio Grande only hours before the remainder of the Texans were captured at Mier, Tamaulipas, on December 25, 1842.

McCulloch was elected to the First Legislature after the annexation of Texas. At the outbreak of the Mexican War he raised a command of Texas Rangers that became Company A of Col. Jack Hays's First Regiment, Texas Mounted Volunteers. He was ordered to report to the United States Army on the Rio Grande and was soon named Zachary Taylor's chief of scouts. As such he won his commander's praise and the admiration of the nation with his exciting reconnaissance expeditions into northern Mexico. The presence in his company of George Wilkins Kendall, editor of the New Orleans Picayune, and Samuel Reid, who later wrote a popular history of the campaign, The Scouting Expeditions of McCulloch's Texas Rangers, propelled McCulloch's name into national prominence. Leading his company as mounted infantry at the battle of Monterrey, McCulloch further distinguished himself, and before the battle of Buena Vista his astute and daring reconnaissance work saved Taylor's army from disaster and won him a promotion to the rank of major of United States volunteers. McCulloch returned to Texas at the end of the war, served for a time as a scout under Bvt. Maj. Gen. David E. Twiggs, and traveled to Tennessee on family business before setting out from Austin on September 9, 1849, for the gold fields of California. Although he failed to strike it rich, he was elected sheriff of Sacramento. His friends in the Senate, Sam Houston and Thomas Jefferson Rusk, mounted a campaign to put him in command of a regiment of United States cavalry for duty on the Texas frontier, but largely due to McCulloch's lack of formal education the attempt was frustrated. In 1852 President Franklin Pierce promised him the command of the elite Second United States Cavalry, but Secretary of War Jefferson Davis bestowed the command instead on his personal favorite, Albert Sidney Johnston. McCulloch was, however, appointed United States marshal for the Eastern District of Texas and served under Judge John Charles Watrous during the administrations of Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan.

In 1858 he was appointed one of two peace commissioners to treat with Brigham Young and the elders of the Mormon Church; he is credited with helping to prevent armed hostilities between the United States government and the Latter-Day Saints in Utah. When secession came to Texas, McCulloch was commissioned a colonel and authorized to demand the surrender of all federal posts in the Military District of Texas. After a bloodless confrontation at the Alamo on February 16, 1861, General Twiggs turned over to McCulloch the federal arsenal and all other United States property in San Antonio. On May 11, 1861, Jefferson Davis appointed McCulloch a brigadier general, the second-ranking brigadier general in the Confederate Army and the first general-grade officer to be commissioned from the civilian community. McCulloch was assigned to the command of Indian Territory and established his headquarters at Little Rock, Arkansas, where he began to build the Army of the West with regiments from Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas. Although hampered by logistical nightmares and a total disagreement over strategic objectives with Missouri general Sterling Price, with whom he had been ordered to cooperate, McCulloch, with the assistance of Albert Pike, established vital alliances with the Cherokees, Choctaws, Creeks, and other inhabitants of what is now eastern Oklahoma. On August 10, 1861, he won an impressive victory over the army of Brig. Gen. Nathaniel Lyon at Wilson's Creek, or Oak Hills, in southwest Missouri. McCulloch's continuing inability to come to personal or strategic accord with Price, however, caused President Davis, on January 10, 1862, to appoint Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn to the command of both McCulloch's and Price's armies. Van Dorn launched the Army of the West on an expedition to capture St. Louis, a plan that McCulloch bitterly resisted.

The Confederates encountered the army of Union major general Samuel R. Curtis on the Little Sugar Creek in northwest Arkansas. Due largely to McCulloch's remarkable knowledge of the terrain, Van Dorn's army was able to flank the enemy out of a strong position and cut his line of communication to the north. McCulloch, commanding the Confederate right wing in the ensuing battle of Pea Ridge, or Elkhorn Tavern, on March 7, 1862, overran a battery of artillery and drove the enemy from his original position. As federal resistance stiffened around 10:30 A.M., however, McCulloch rode forward through the thick underbrush to determine the location of the enemy line, was shot from his horse, and died instantly. His command devolved upon Brig. Gen. James M. McIntosh, who was killed but a few minutes later while leading a charge to recover McCulloch's body. Col. Louis Hébert, the division's senior regimental commander, was captured in the same charge, and soon McCulloch's division, without leadership, began to fall apart and drift toward the rear. Most participants and later historians attribute to McCulloch's untimely death the disaster at Pea Ridge and the subsequent loss of Arkansas to the Union forces. McCulloch was first buried on the field, but his body was removed to the cemetery at Little Rock and thence to the State Cemetery in Austin. McCulloch never married. His papers are located in the Barker Texas History Center at the University of Texas at Austin. Source 

30° 15.921
-097° 43.636

Monument Hill
Texas State Cemetery

February 4, 2014

Matchett Herring Coe (1907-1999)

Herring Coe was born in Loeb, Texas on July 22, 1907. As a young adult, he attended Lamar College, where he studied electrical engineering. After receiving his degree, he went to Cranbrook Educational Community, where he studied art. During World War II, Coe was called to duty and served with the Navy. However, Coe's experience was most likely somewhat different from most men who served in that era, as he was a part of a Seabees unit based in Guadalcanal. The Seabees were a militarized construction crew that built and razed buildings for the military wherever they were sent, which undoubtedly influenced Coe's artistic development.  As Coe developed as a sculptor, his pieces were characterized as architectural in nature with an affinity for simplicity of form. His works consisted mostly of commissioned works for permanent institutions, including the Battalion Memorial at Guadalcanal, the bronze Dick Dowling at Sabine Pass, TX, and the granite frieze on the cenotaph erected in memory of the children and teachers who perished in a school explosion at New London, TX. He is also the creator of The Texan in Vicksburg National Military Park. Several Houston buildings are adorned with Coe sculptures, including Houston City Hall, Rice University Library, St. Mary's Seminary Chapel, St. Placidus Home for the Aged, First Presbyterian Church and the entrance to the Hermann Park Zoo. His works have been featured at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, The Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. For the overwhelming majority of his life, Coe remained in the Beaumont area of Texas, where he died on January 14, 1999.

30° 06.049
-094° 06.109

Magnolia Cemetery