MICHAEL PATRICK GALLAGHER
Private First Class, Combat Aviation Door Gunner
281st Assault Helicopter Company
From: Dearborn Heights, Michigan
Born: February 12, 1943
Tour of duty began March 8, 1967.
Michael was struck, and killed by small arms fire, on May 21st, 1967,
while attempting to rescue a
fellow crew member of a downed helicopter.
Private First Class Michael Patrick
Gallagher was born February 12, 1943, to James and Virginia
Gallagher of Detroit, Michigan. Michael attended
elementary school there and graduated from the Detroit
Cathedral High School in Detroit. During his high school
years, he lived with his Aunt and Uncle, Mary and Emmett
Rossiter and his cousins, Terry, Katy, Bob, Patty, Brian, Tom,
Mary, and Sharon Rossiter who have good memories of
Michael. Michael had half-brothers, Jim, Miles, Matt,
and a half-sister, Trish Griffin, who was born after his
death. Efforts to reach his mother and immediate family
members have failed.
After graduation, Michael worked for Detroit Edison until 1966. During this time, he met and married his wife, Joann Johnson. They had two daughters, Theresa A. and Kathleen. The marriage ended in divorce in May of 1966 but they had made plans to remarry upon his return from Vietnam. According to official military records, Michael was drafted into the Army in May, 1966, attending Basic and Advanced Training as a cook at Ft. Knox, Kentucky. In October, 1966, Michael was assigned to the 3rd ID in Germany where he volunteered to be a Heavy Truck Driver. Apparently not liking this situation, he volunteered to be a door gunner in Vietnam. In March, 1967, he was reassigned to the 281st AHC in Vietnam.
Michael performed his duties as a gunner on a UH-1 aircraft until he was killed on May 21, 1967. The aircraft he was assigned to was performing a combat aviation rescue mission of a downed 281st AHC crew in the Ashau Valley. Michael was lowering a jungle penetrator to the downed crew when he was struck by small arms fire through the chest. Michael was the only one of the rescue aircraft hit by hostile fire. Michael is buried in Grandlawn Cemetery in Detroit, Michigan
A friend from the 281st AHC, Ken McNeil, wrote: “Mike Gallagher was a good soldier. He died trying to save a friend who was missing in the Ashau Valley. That friend knew Mike had been trying to save him and was later retrieved alive and well. Michael Gallagher was a kind and gentle man. He had many friends and we all missed him when he died.”
Michael is remembered by his Rossiter cousins and a niece, Sheila Mann, who furnished the photo of him which she received from Michael’s daughter, Theresa. Sheila stated that her father was a good friend of Michael’s and had fond memories of him. His cousin, Sharon, said: “We loved Mike and looked up to him” and that he loved to eat raw potatoes dipped in vinegar. His cousins have many fond memories of him. Sharon also stated that he was very good to help people and was a good person. He is still missed by all of them. Sharon relates several stories about Michael, one being that he had spent some time in a military school and when he came to live at their house, he didn’t like the way they made their beds and taught them the proper way -- Sharon has continued to do it his way since then. He was the official “bed maker” in their home.
Michael’s awards include the Purple Heart, the Air Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, the Vietnam Service Medal, and the aviation mechanics wings. Michael’s father died in 1988. Michael died at the age of 24 years, 3 months, and 9 days. He is lovingly remembered by his cousins and those who knew him.
CSM Robert L. Ohmes of the 281st AHC Association adopted Michael Gallagher and prepared his "Book Of Remembrance" for the 281st Association Memorial Web Site.
A MAN IS NOT DEAD UNTIL HE IS FORGOTTEN
ONCE AN INTRUDER ... ALWAYS AN INTRUDER