Ed Gallagher, Jr. Waterloo veteran of WWII - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Ed Gallagher, Jr. Waterloo veteran of WWII

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Waterloo's inaugural Sullivan, Hartogh, Davis Honor Flight was this week.  One of the veterans on the flight was Ed Gallagher, Jr.

Gallagher joined the Navy in March of 1944.  The Waterloo native studying at Loras College was drafted.  Ed served on the USS Chenengo, an aircraft carrier.

"I saw 2 160 pound sailors lift a 500 pound bomb and throw it over the side otherwise they would have gone off," Gallagher said describing the flight deck after one of their planes crash landed.  He also recalled the many Kamikaze attacks during a 2006 interview with Iowa Veterans Project coordinator Bob Neymeyer.  "They knew on our carrier that if they hit the aft elevator they'd go right to the engine room. They knew that."

"This was the flag that we made and flew on V Day," Ed said when shuffling through a photo album.

VJ, or Victory over Japan Day was August 15, 1945 (August 14 in the U.S.) following the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Ed Gallagher, Jr. helped on a hospital ship in Nagasaki following the attack. 

Ed described what he saw, "We went in and the devastation in Nagasaki was horrible. Once in a while you'd see a stick or a telephone pole still standing."

He remembers with great detail the American prisoners they'd care for in the coming weeks.

"These guys, these prisoners came down in landing craft and they looked skin and bone. Their arms weren't any bigger than my two fingers. And of course we were flying the flag and they came by. They were going slow and they looked up to all of us with tears. That's the first time they'd seen an American Flag for four years," Gallagher said.

After the war, Ed returned to Waterloo and established a law practice, becoming very active in the community.

In 1988, Ed was instrumental in recognizing the Sullivan Brothers, all five of whom were killed aboard the USS Juneau.  He campaigned to rename the "Conway Center" the "Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center."

Ed and his wife Cathy have been generous supporters of veteran organizations, catholic education, the Grout Museum, UNI's Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, and was a driving force in the development of the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum, which opened in 2008.

Bob Neymeyer at the museum is who we owe thanks to for the interview and pictures in this story.  It's part of the veterans project which aims to preserve the stories of our men and women who have served in uniform.

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