John Galvin (general)

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John Galvin
John Galvin, official military photo, 1991.JPEG
Galvin in March 1991
Birth nameJohn Rogers Galvin
BornMay 13, 1929
Wakefield, Massachusetts
DiedSeptember 25, 2015(2015-09-25) (aged 86)
Jonesboro, Georgia
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Army
Years of service1954–1992
RankUS Army O10 shoulderboard rotated.svg General
Commands held1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile)
24th Infantry Division
VII Corps
United States Southern Command
U.S. European Command
Supreme Allied Commander
Battles/warsVietnam War
Cold War
AwardsDefense Distinguished Service Medal ribbon.svg  Defense Distinguished Service Medal
U.S. Army Distinguished Service Medal ribbon.svg  Army Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star Medal ribbon.svg  Silver Star
Legion of Merit ribbon.svg  Legion of Merit (3)
Distinguished Flying Cross ribbon.svg  Distinguished Flying Cross
Soldier's Medal ribbon.svg  Soldier's Medal
Bronze Star Medal ribbon.svg  Bronze Star (3)
Air Medal ribbon.svg  Air Medal with "V" Device
Other workFletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century

John Rogers Galvin (May 13, 1929 – September 25, 2015) was an American army general who served as the sixth dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a member of the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century.


Galvin began his service as an enlisted soldier in the Massachusetts Army National Guard from 1947 to 1950 before he received an appointment to United States Military Academy at West Point, graduating in 1954 with a Bachelor of Science degree. In 1969, during the Vietnam War, lieutenant colonel Galvin commanded the 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). For his actions as the battalion's commander he was awarded the Silver Star.[1]

He later earned a Master of Arts degree in English from Columbia University and completed a fellowship at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in 1971. Galvin rose through the ranks and commanded the 24th Infantry Division. later on he commanded the VII Corps from July 1983 to February 1985.

Galvin's career included the rare opportunity to command two different Department of Defense Unified Commands. He served as Commander in Chief, United States Southern Command in Panama from 1985 to 1987 and Commander in Chief, United States European Command from June 26, 1987, to June 23, 1992. During his tenure as Commander U.S. European Command he also served as NATO's Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR).[2]

During his time as SACEUR many stay-behind networks in Europe were dismantled, a process that started with the revelations by Italy's then prime minister, Giulio Andreotti, who disclosed to the Italian Parliament the existence of a Gladio stay-behind anti-communist paramilitary network headed by NATO and present in most European countries.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Galvin lived with his wife Ginny and had four daughters. One of his daughters, Beth, is a medical reporter for WAGA, the FOX affiliate in Atlanta. The Galvin Middle School in Wakefield, Massachusetts, is named after him. The United States Military Academy awarded Galvin (Class of '54) the 1997 Distinguished Graduate Award.[4] On September 25, 2015, he died in Jonesboro, Georgia at the age of 86.[5]

Galvin's awards and decorations include[edit]

Combat Infantry Badge.svg
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
Combat Infantryman Badge
1st Row
Defense Distinguished Service Medal
2nd Row
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star Medal
Legion of Merit (with two oak leaf clusters)
3rd Row
Distinguished Flying Cross
Soldier's Medal
Bronze Star Medal (with two oak leaf clusters)
4th Row
Air Medal with V Device for valor
National Defense Service Medal with one bronze service star
Army Service Ribbon
5th Row
Army Overseas Service Ribbon
Great Cross of Merit with star of the Federal Republic of Germany
Bavarian Order of Merit
6th Row
Ordre de la Légion d'honneur Grand Officier
Spanish Order of Military Merit Grand Cross
Order of Orange-Nassau Grand Cross, 1992[4]
Senior Parachutist Badge


  • Galvin, John (1969). Air Assault: the Development of Airmobile.
  • Galvin, John (1997). Three Men of Boston. ISBN 1574881116.
  • Galvin, John (2006). The Minute Men: The First Fight: Myths and Realities of the American Revolution. ISBN 1597970700.
  • Galvin, John (2015). Fighting the Cold War: A Soldier's Memoir. Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Gen. Bernard W. Rogers
Supreme Allied Commander Europe
Succeeded by
Gen. John Shalikashvili