By GREG RUSSELL, Register Staff Writer
Gainesville Daily Register
The postal building at 321 E. California St. in Gainesville may soon come to be known by another name — the name of a famed general, now deceased, who settled in Cooke County during his later years.
On Wednesday, Rep. Michael Burgess [R-Lewisville] introduced legislation to designate the Gainesville facility as the “Brig. Gen. Robert E. Galer Post Office Building.” The bill, known as H.R. 6589, was co-sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry and was referred to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Its architect was Gary Alexander, local coordinator of Gainesville’s Medal of Honor Host City program and friend of Galer, an ex-Marine fighter pilot and Medal of Honor recipient. The bill’s approval timeline is pending, and Alexander said he and Host City organizers hope to see it passed by April 2013 in time for Host City events.
But Alexander said its inspiration was his own friendship with the general. He explained that Galer, who died in 2005, lived seasonally in Lake Kiowa during retirement years with wife Sharon, and had emerged as an early and key supporter of the Host City program.
“It was our privilege have their complete support during the fledgling years of our program, which included their not-to-be-missed brunch during our Medal of Honor weekend,” Alexander said Thursday. “Without his assistance, it would have been harder to get known among the recipients. He was an elder statesman among the recipients and he got us in touch with them. And so we wanted to recognize him as our ‘adopted Medal of Honor recipient’ in Cooke County.”
Galer, born in 1913 in Seattle, Wash., was an “All-American” basketball player who later earned a surfeit of awards in World War II during the Battle of Guadalcanal. Alexander said that as a major, Galer shot down 11 enemy planes in 29 days while leading an aerial combat squadron at Guadalcanal. The general also received the Navy Cross, the Legion of Merit with combat “V,” the Distinguished Flying Cross with one gold star, the Purple Heart medal, the Air Medal with 10 gold stars and the British Distinguished Flying Cross.
And unlike many Medal of Honor recipients who visit Gainesville once a year to participate in Host City festivities, Galer was actually a local resident, something Alexander said was not widely known.
“He just lived quietly on the lake,” he said. “There are a lot of military pilots and commercial pilots who lived out there. So he liked it here and he liked the people, and he was just a wonderful addition to our community.”