Nathaniel A. Gallagher

NO. 17752•  17 September 1926 - 18 March 2011

Died in Chapel Hill, NC
Cremated. Interred in West Point Cemetery, NY

Nathaniel Ambrose “Nate” Gallagher was born Feb 22, 1927, in Malden, MA, the fourth child born to Dr. Nicholas and Anna Gallagher. After graduating from Malden High School, Nate entered the United States Military Academy, graduating in the Class of 1950. Nate married Eileen (Boe) Boehm in December 1950. Their son, Dr. Dale Gallagher, was born in 1952 with their daughter, Darra Das, joining the family in 1954. After living in Darien, CT, for 19 years, Boe and Nate moved to Chapel Hill, NC, in 1996. Sadly, Boe passed away in 1997, after losing her battle with cancer. Two years later, Nate was blessed anew by his marriage to another wonderful woman, Joan Haberer. It is no surprise that they met at a church function because Nate was a devout and practicing Catholic all his life.

Gregarious by nature, there were times when Nate’s true character was masked because he invariably greeted people with a suitable quip or feigned mockery. Soon afterward however, that façade faded quickly as his true charming character shone through. Nate’s generosity and sociability were ever present and unmistakable. He was always ready to help and pitch in. Some insist that Nate was generous to a fault. His roommate recalls a time when Nate offered to help a classmate with a calculus problem, even though Nate knew little about solving the problem. Fortunately another classmate was able to assist both of them!  Nate would readily admit that his closest lifelong friends were his fellow classmates. An enduring bond developed with several classmates and their wives. They shared a special camaraderie, humor, and genuine friendship on many alumni trips, dinners at the Army-Navy Club, and tail-gate gatherings. A personal favorite for Nate was having his friends visit Nate’s Broadview Farm in New Hampshire, property that his father had owned since he was a child.

During his days at the Academy, Nate was a leader recognized by his peers. He was a cadet lieutenant and, more noteworthy, the Chairman of the prestigious Honor Committee-elected to that position by fellow Committee members, themselves cadets of notable integrity. Upon graduation in 1950, Nate chose to enter pilot training with the U.S. Air Force. His years at West Point, coupled with his time served in the Air Force, had a resounding influence on his life. Nate would comment that those experiences taught him to be honest, trustworthy, and reliable.

Nate’s Air Force career focused primarily on aircrew duty, senior staff assignments, and Wing Command experience in the Strategic Air Command, with notable assignments in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. While at March AFB, Nate served through 1960 on aircrew and on the KC-97 and the B-47 in the 22nd Bomb Wing; he then held several staff assignments at 15th Air Force Headquarters until 1963. In 1964 Nate received his MBA in management from George Washington University. He served in the PACAF Headquarters during 1964-66. Nate volunteered for combat duty in Vietnam. Later, he had the opportunity to command the 8th Tactical Bomb Squadron, flying the B-57 out of Clark AFB, Philippines and Phan Rang AB, Vietnam, during 1966-67. His leadership and flying expertise were recognized with this tour, and Nate was awarded the Silver Star, five Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Bronze Star, fourteen Air Medals, and Presidential Unit citation. Nate had tours with Headquarters 13th Air Force, Clark AFB, the Office of the Director of Research and Development, Headquarters USAF, and the OJCS (J-5).  Nate served as Commander of three SAC B-52 Wings during a turbulent period for the Air Force and had the distinction of commanding the largest number of B-52s in the history of SAC. He was the Commander of the 19th Bomb Wing, Robins AFB, Georgia; the 72nd Strategic Wing (provisional); and the 410th Bomb Wing at Anderson AFB, Guam during 1972-74. In 1974 Nate was the Wing Commander of the 10th Bomb Wing at K.I. Sawyer AFB in northern Michigan. Nate’s final assignment was Chief of Staff of the Military Committee at the United Nations during 1975-77.

After 27 years of Military Service, Nate retired from the Air Force in 1977 with the rank of colonel. He then began a post-military career with Philip Morris as the Director of Corporate Security, which involved worldwide travel. After seven years, he retired from Philip Morris and then served a year on President Reagan’s Commission on Organized Crime until a final report was completed. Nate spent the next 15 years assisting his fellow Academy graduates with a placement service called Academy Graduates Executive Search, (AGES). Nate received many accolades for helping a large number of service members find meaningful employment after they retired from the military. Further, Nate remained very active in the Academy of Graduates (AOG). Nate served on the Board of Trustees (Class Trustee) from 1989-90, and he also served on several Alumni Support Committees of the AOG from 1989-05. Nate’s life portrays the illustrious career of a superb leader, courageous pilot, and devoted American. His unrelenting quest was to reach beyond the merely commonplace. He strived to be the very best that he could be. In this effort he never wavered. The words, “Duty, Honor, Country” meant more to Nate than a motto. They were a standard that he accepted, and it represented the way he lived his life. He always professed that “it was best to lead by example.” Nate was a highly decorated officer who made a difference. His services made an impact in a variety of significant and demanding Air Force assignments. To his family, he was the most loving and caring husband, father, grandfather, and step-father, and our warm memories of him and how he lived his life will help to sustain us in his absence.

- Wife and classmates