Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gallegos Military Record

My paternal grandfather, Carlos Gallegos, fought in World War II, along with two of his brothers, Clemente and Eloy. I am ashamed to say that I never took the time to find out much about their service and sacrifices, even though I knew that Eloy was killed in action. My father, Gilbert Eloy Gallegos, Sr., was named after his late uncle. Of course I was named after my father.
 I recently requested and received some of my grandfather's military records from the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. Unfortunately, some of the records were destroyed in a fire in 1973. Most of Eloy's records were destroyed in the same fire.
Carlos Gallegos enlisted with the New Mexico National Guard in 1935 and was honorably discharged as a Private 1st Class in 1938. He served again as a Sergeant with Co. C, 120th Engineer Bn. from 1940 through January 1943, when he was honorably discharged to accept a commission.
 He took an engineering course at Officer Candidate School in Ft. Belvoir, VA, and was at Camp White in Oregon when his brother, Eloy, was killed during the allied invasion of Sicily. While at Camp White, Carlos  suffered an injury to his right hand as a result of an accidental booby trap explosion, according to the military records.
Carlos served as an officer from January 1943 through December 1945. He commanded a Portable Bridge Unit and was "responsible for its administration, training, and tactical employment. Directed supply, equipment, transportation, and security activities of unit; directed and controlled tactical employment of unit in combat, evaluated intelligence, estimated situations, formulated decisions, and maintained communication; directed unit in maintenance and transportation of river-crossing equipment; assisted general engineer troops in emplacing portable bridges, such as ponton, spar. trestle, and foot, and in construction of bridges and ferries at site of operations. Served in this capacity in European Theater of Operations."
While the military records are...well, pretty dry, as you would expect from military records, they are still very fascinating to me. They fill in some gaps for me. For example, I thought my grandpa suffered a gun shot wound to his hand. But a booby trap? The real gold mine of information, which I hope to see some day, is in personal records and memorabilia that my Dad said my Grandpa brought home from the war.

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