In this issue of The Gizmo will be the first of a series of articles about the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion raid on Makin Island during August 1942. During the raid, several Raiders that were KIA, were left on the island and buried by local natives. After many years of attempting to locate the bodies, they were finally discovered with the assistance of one of the natives that helped bury them.
The remains were eventually recovered and transferred to Hawaii where they were subsequently identified through DNA tests and dental records. In a ceremony, scheduled for August 2001, they will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
Two of the Marines that were identified were from Michigan. Pvt. Charles A. Selby, Ontonagon and PFC William A. Gallagher of Wyandotte, It is our intention to establish a memorial fund for Bill Gallagher through the Marine Corps League, Downriver Detachment, which will include a refurbishment of the detachment upstairs; a memorial wall; a plaque at the Wyandotte Boat Club and donations to the Roosevelt High School Swim Team (of which Gallagher was a member prior to his graduation in 1939.
Next Month: Personal information on Gallagher and his Wyandotte "roots"; an update on the memorial fund and plans for local ceremonies.
Included in this issue of The Gizmo is the second in a three-part series about the Marine Raider Battalion raid on Makin Island during August of 1942. As it was mentioned in last month’s column, the following is about Wyandotte born Marine, PFC William A. Gallagher:
Bill Gallagher was born on April 19, 1920 in Wyandotte, MI. He attended Roosevelt High School and was a member of the Swim Team and the Football Team. (Also on the Swim Team with Gallagher was Jack McCauley, who later became Mayor of Wyandotte.) Bill graduated in 1939 and joined the Marine Corps on March 28, 1941 (serial number 307593). Gallagher was eventually selected for the new "and elite" Raider Battalions that were being formed by Lieutenant Colonel Evans Carlson, later to be known as "Carlson’s Raiders". After the selection process the Raiders trained in Hawaii for a "special mission" near Guadacanal. During the training in rubber boats, Bill was credited with saving the life of a fellow Raider who fell in the water and almost drowned.
After the training, the Raiders boarded two submarines and subsequently made the raid on what is referred to as Makin Island. During a fire-fight, Gallagher was killed in action on August 17, 1942. He and the other Marines killed during the fierce fighting were buried on the island by natives.
After several years of attempting to locate and identify the "fallen Marines", it was finally accomplished in 1999, eventually returning them to Hawaii to await burial. Some have returned "home" while the remainder will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery on August 17, 2001. The Marine Corps League, Downriver Detachment will have a coinciding ceremony at that time.
Next Month: Gallagher’s friends and relatives remember......
In this issue of The Gizmo is the last of a three-part series about the Marine Raider Battalion raid on Makin Island in 1942. As it was previously mentioned, Wyandotte born Marine PFC William A. Gallagher, was a member of "Carlson’s Raiders", and subsequently KIA while participating in one of the first battles of WWII.
On August 17, 2001, the remains of the Marines lost on Makin Island will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery in a ceremony which will include the Commandant of the Marine Corps. Several relatives and friends are also expected to attend.
During the Arlington rites, a ceremony will also be held at the Marine Corps League, Downriver Detachment. But, as most of the family of Bill Gallagher will be attending Arlington, another ceremony will be held later this year to dedicate the wall to honor Gallagher. Most of those I contacted have promised to attend including Gallagher’s sister, Emma Schmitt of Roseville, MI; his nephew and namesake, Bill Giesin of Louisville, KY and his two (high school) buddies, John Haggarty and Art Monske of Ohio.
With permission of the family, a memorial fund has now been established. This fund will initially be used to complete the upstairs room and memorial wall, followed by donations to the RHS Swim Team and other worthwhile endeavors. You may send your donations to: "MCL Gallagher Memorial", 1323 Eureka, Wyandotte, MI 48192 - c/o Judge Advocate. Names are also being accepted for the "room". If your suggestion is selected, there may even be some type of "reward". So, give us some ideas!