Joe Franklin Galle was born in Bozeman, MT and grew up in nearby Manhattan, MT, where he attended and graduated from the public elementary and high schools. He also attended Montana State College for a year prior to entering West Point in 1959, and he served as an armored cavalry trooper in the Montana National Guard from 1957 until 1959. Joe was good at baseball, and he enjoyed hunting and Boy Scouts. In high school, he was in the Debate Council and Forum, the Pistol Club, Student Council, Future Farmers of America, the Order of De Molay, the Gallatin Valley Youth Council, and the Westminster (Church) Fellowship.
Joe brought a unique background to West Point. He was especially well read in literature, philosophy, and history. He was a self-taught student of military history, identifying strongly with GEN George S. Patton, Jr. He could discourse at length on all of these topics and delighted in engaging his classmates in discussions that lasted well into the night. He drove all participants to the books in order to contend with him, beginning for many of us the lifelong habit of professional reading. He was a brilliant writer, turning out polished papers seemingly without effort.
Joe was often the catalyst for building the spirit and cohesiveness of Company K-1. As a first classman, Joe had grown weary of the usual manifestations of spirit the week before the Army–Navy game. He envisioned a much grander event. Using graph paper, Joe drew a K-1 dragon, complete with fire blazing from its mouth and “BEAT NAVY” beneath its feet, scaled to the New South Barracks quadrangle. He organized a team for each concrete square, provided instructions for obtaining sufficient colored chalk from the classrooms, and coordinated a late-night start time. The entire company worked for several hours filling in the outlines Joe had sketched out on the grids. At “Reveille” the following morning, a ferocious, fire-breathing, shield-wielding, K-1 dragon occupying the entire area greeted the four companies living in New South. Throughout the day, cadets from all over the Corps, in addition to staff, faculty, and a number of post family members, made the trek to New South to see what was the most original and elegant “Beat Navy” event of the era.
After graduation and training at Ft. Knox, KY, he reported for a one-year tour of duty in Korea with the 1st Battalion, 15th Armor, 1st Cavalry Division, where he met his first wife, Pat, who worked for the Red Cross. Joe next served at the Armor Training Center at Ft. Knox during 1964–68, where he earned a Commendation Medal. He then was assigned to Viet Nam, where he commanded E Troop, 1st Cavalry, 11th Infantry Brigade. There he was awarded two Bronze Stars, another Commendation Medal, and the Republic of Viet Nam Cross of Gallantry with Palm. During this tour, Joe authorized a picture yearbook about E Troop, 1st Cavalry, which summarized the activities and personnel of the unit during 1969–70. This picture book can be viewed on the web at www.hill4-11.org/history/etroop-yearbook/etroop-yearbookhtml.
After Viet Nam, he was off to Montana State University to be close to home and to work on a master’s degree in history, which he was awarded in 1973. Assigned to Headquarters, III Corps, at Ft. Hood during 1976–78, he earned a master’s degree in consulting from American Technical University in 1977. Upon Joe’s resignation from the Army as a major in 1978, he received the Meritorious Service Medal.
Joe began his civilian career at Lockheed in Sunnyvale, CA, where he worked as a logistics analyst during 1978–79. He married Judy, and daughters Alegra and Jocelyn joined the family. By the late 1980s, however, Joe and Judy had separated and Joe had moved to Big Sky, MT to be on his own.
On 5 Oct 1990, at age 50, Joe passed away at his cabin in the Gallatin Canyon in the Big Sky country he loved above all. He is survived by his former wife, Judith Galle; daughters Alegra and Jocelyn, who live in Glendive, MT; and his stepfather, Emmet Learn, of Manhattan, MT.
Be thou at peace, Joe.
Classmate and friend James D. Lang