Life and the internet are strange strange things. I’ve been trading emails and posts etc with Chris for years now. It wasn’t at all uncommon for his duties, deployments, and family to make those virtual conversations sporadic from time to time. Well, Chris won’t be returning emails anymore. He passed away suddenly on June 30, 2009.
Last Fall he and his wife Shannon had a baby girl, Lilly. Chris was so happy. We teased him about how awful it is to step on Barbie Doll high heels in the middle of the night, and he bragged about how his friends Mossberg and Remington were gonna help keep the boys away from his little beauty.
A few weeks later he deployed to Afghanistan. We still got emails from him. He sent pics, talked about the firefights, artillery barrages on Christmas night, and how, ‘once you accept that if you step off the path you’re in a minefield , and you’re dead, it’s not that bad. Ya just stay on the path.’ He didn’t love it over there in the ass-end of the planet by any stretch of the imagination, but he was extremely proud to be doing his duty-at least, that’s what he told us in emails.
Chris was always brash, blunt, bold, and beautiful in his political commentary. He was in no uncertain terms not happy with the Democratic Party, its leaders or its followers. Time and again he posted here at Flopping Aces in response to DNC talking points about Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Global War on Terror. He would NEVER stoop to re-naming it ‘overseas contingency operations in support of combat in Operations Iraqi Freedom and/or Operation Enduring Freedom. People would post that there were no WMD in Iraq, and he’s show pictures and links and tell personal stories of his time there. They’d say there was no Al Queda in Iraq, and that Saddam and Bin Laden had no relationship, and he’d wig out with tales of what he had personally seen.
What really set Chris off the most in terms of war and politics seemed to be the lack of support, the fake support, and the deliberate division of the nation for political purposes. Time and time again he claimed that the opposition to the war was just a way of bitching about George W Bush. He claimed that if Obama was elected, the opposition to the war would disappear in a heartbeat. He was right. He hated the claim that people could claim supported the troops, and then oppose their efforts to succeed; oppose their hard work. It pissed him off. He said in one email it was like saying you support the players on your baseball team, but not wanting them to win. He saw it as a lie, a lie for partisan political reason, and he saw the fake opposition to America’s wars as something weak, something that he personally, directly, unequivocally witnessed giving strength to the enemy and made his job harder. He described this firsthand frustration in almost every email, every post, and every article that he wrote.
This weekend the Flopping Aces writers were trading emails and having one of those REPLY TO ALL discussions. One of us asked what we’d all be wondering, “Has anyone heard from Chris lately?” Curt was the last. He had heard from him in early June. It only took a few moments of Googling, and someone found his obituary. We couldn’t believe it was him. Too much hair in the picture-not enough hair. More Googling followed. So did more information. Yeah, it was him.
On June 30th Major Chris Galloway took his own life. He had come back from Afghanistan in April, and things just weren’t the same we’re told.
Why’d we lose him? Who the hell knows. There is no rational reason for doing such a thing, so using reason to figure it out is both impossible and ineffectual. It accomplishes nothing. In the end, he’s still gone. For the sake of his wife, his kids, and for ourselves it’s better to remember him for who he was. Given that he was so much to so many, there’s a lot to think about. He was a husband, father, soldier, a writer for Flopping Aces, and I consider him my friend. We all consider him our friend. May God bless him and give him peace. He’s earned it.
Chris’ military honors:
MAJOR Christopher Todd Galloway was born in FT. Knox, KY on February 12, 1973.
He Graduated from Oxford High School in 1991, where he was a member of the explorer scouts program and he also took great interest in computers and engineering.
MAJOR Galloway went to Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI (where he met his wife Shannon) He graduated in 1996 with a bachelors degree in engineering management. He became involved in ROTC while in college and went to Basic training at FT. Knox, KY.
After Graduation, MAJOR Galloway’s 1st assignment was tank platoon leader in Baumholder, Germany for the C company, 1st battalion, 35th armor of 1st Armor division. While serving as a tank platoon leader, MAJOR Galloway deployed to Bosnia for 6 months conducting the NATO peace keeping operations. He was latter assigned to headquarters and headquarters company (HHC) Excutive Officer under the same Battalion.
Major GAlloway’s service includes Assistant Brigade S3 and Batalian S4 in FT. Riley, KS under the 1st Infantry Division. He Served as Troop Commander under D Troop, 1st Squadron, 16th Cavarly regiment in FT. Knox KY. This is where Chris Earned his spurs and Stetson that he was so proud of.
In 2006, Major Galloway was assessed in the Army Acquisition Corps. He served his 1st Acquisition assignment as the assistant Project manager (APM) for survivability under the TANK-AUTOMOTIVE research, development and Engineering center (TARDEC) in Warren, MI. He was deployed to Iraq in 2007 till the Birth of his 2nd son.
He served his most recent assignment with the joint MRAP Vehicle Program office for Mine resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) as the APM Survivability under the Program Executive Office, Combat support & Combat service support (PEO CS&CSS)
Major Galloway’s awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service metal, Army Commendation Metal (2 OLC), Army Achievement metal, National Defense Service metal, NATO metal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Afghanistan Campaign metal, Global War on Terrorism Service Metal, and the overseas and Army Service ribbon.
He is Survived by his wife Shannon and their 3 children. Nathan (4.5), Benjamin (2) and Lillian (10 months)
Major Galloway is also survived by his Mother Sara Galloway and his sister Erin Galloway. He was preceded in Death by his father Major Lawrence Galloway.
There will be a trust fund set up for Major Galloway’s children soon, details to follow.
Not even sure how to start this post, it’s all been a blur. As Scott described above it began with a simple “has anyone heard from Chris?” and it snowballed from there. I never, in my wildest dreams, imagined it would end like this. The Chris I knew and befriended here on Flopping Aces, first as a commenter and then author when I asked him to come aboard on September 6th, 2007 was solid as a rock. He served his country in war and peacetime. He was so proud of his country and his babies but was passionate about the direction this country was going in and he didn’t like it one bit…as none of us did either.
But why would he take his own life?
The last few emails I received from him in early June, apologizing for the lack of writing (which we all understood due to his service to our country) spoke of him going through some tough personal problems. I told him to stay in touch and if he needed anything to please contact me.
I never heard from him again.
As Scott said above “so using reason to figure it out is both impossible and ineffectual. It accomplishes nothing. In the end, he’s still gone.” So we will choose to honor a life he should be proud of.
Chris, may you rest in peace, and know that those issues you were so passionate about will not be forgotten by us left behind. You served your country proudly and for that I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
This weekend has been surreal. Our author off-forum discussions of Chris left us in varying states of disbelief, bewilderment and grieving. And I will even add, frustrating.
As one of the newest authors here, I feel cheated not having the cyber relationship longevity Curt, Scott and a few others have enjoyed. But my recent entry to this tight knit, and often sibling taunting, FA family never seemed to matter to Chris. From the moment that Curt brought me in to join the crew, Chris’ heart was opened, and his thoughts unedited.
But that human “welcome mat” seemed to be Chris all around. He had this knack of seeing beauty and bright spots in the darkest moments, or most barren terrain. A giving kind of guy with a heart bigger than a mountain, convictions as solid as the man of steel, and a loyalty and patriotism most could not fathom, let alone match.
Those same qualities are reflected in his military service as well. In some ways, you latecomers to FA can see into Chris’s soul by reading his first “guest post” in Sept 2007, called “My Iraq”. It was a post that led to his FA authorship status, and Curt’s comments still reside at the bottom of that post… tho I am chagrined to find the photos have been lost to archives and technological snafus from our history of cyber attacks. (Curt’s Note: I found the pictures in the archive and have put them back into that post)
Chris’s specialty was MRAPs. In essence, his job was to protect the troops… literally… with expertise in armoring up not only vehicles, but the gear they carried. Chris’s last tour in Iraq included new troops to care for… the Iraqi Army.
In that first post from Chris – still serving at that time in Iraq – one of the lost photos is of a newly trained Iraqi soldier embracing and comforting a child in the aftermath of battle.
The Iraqi Soldier of today is better educated, better lead, and better supported than he ever was. Would they be on par with the Western Coalition today? No, but few are and we train heard just to keep that proficiency ourselves.
That said, the Iraqi Army is probably the best armed force in the Arab/Persian world. If you cannot look at this picture and be touched by the emotional comfort the Soldier is providing the child, then I doubt anything I have to say will matter as your heart is full of hatred for the USA, our President, our Armed Forces, and the good Iraqi People.
So how does this affect yours truly? I helped equip this Soldier you see hugging the child. Everything he has on him and even that generator behind him are things I helped provide. That is my contribution to the war now. I help to build a professional Iraqi Army. My years as an Armor Officer are over. I have moved to Acquisitions. My vengeance to the terrorists no longer comes from the muzzles of my tanks, but from the ability of the Iraqis to hunt and kill the barbarian terrorist thugs themselves.
To re’read that post, and archives of Chris’s emails to us that were not for the public forum, the tears still well up. This was not a man who cried uncle in the face of adversity, but one who stood defiantly against those that preyed on the freedom and future of others. His convictions for our military, our mission in the Middle East, and his distinct dedication as a protector of all within in his power and reach is something that you find in few individuals.
He tried to find the beauty wherever he was… even describing Bagram as “nice, if dusty” in his final FA post after arriving in Afghanistan Nov of 2008. No matter where he was, Chris never lost the poet, nor sense of humor, that resided within.
Along with losing a cyber friend that I treasured, I have a particular sadness for Chris. He spent his adult life loving, giving and protecting. I can’t help but feel that, at a time when the “protector” needing protecting himself, that we… those he guarded and shielded with his very life… were perhaps unintentionally blind to his personal plight. Maybe we felt that one who displayed so much magnificence in his dedication to others was invincible to every incoming threat… military or personal.
Today, we know differently. For a reason we may never know, this man who gave his all for country, his fellow troops, and even strangers in a strange land, found himself running on “empty” when it came to protecting himself.
Chris? If there’s an ISP connection in heaven, you shall be missed. And never again will I see another warrior/protector, without wondering if perhaps I should find a way to give back and refuel his spirit…. Just in case he or she is too proud to say they are in trouble.
RIP, our friend.
The Internet makes our world smaller. It puts us into contact with people that we would otherwise have never known and our lives are made better for it.
It’s strange how you can grow attached to people that you have never met in person. That’s what happened when I “met” Chris. I became attached to him. I looked forward to hearing what he had to say.
Through Chris’ posts and his comments a man who truly loved his family and his country came shining through. A man with steely eyed resolve, quick wit, and a heart of gold. The dedication, determination, discipline, and skill that he put into his job as a defender of freedom was communicated loud and clear to all of us who read his words.
The pride, the joy, and the love that he had for his children was unmistakable.
Chris believed in America. He believed in our cause in Iraq and Afghanistan. Chris believed that he could make a difference. Chris did make a difference.
From his first post here at FA:
To those who serve and support our efforts and are part of the war to crush the rising tide of terrorism and hijacked Islam, you will look at this picture, and like me, promise those little eyes that we WILL NOT FAIL. I looked at this picture the most today writing this letter. I kept asking myself if I have done everything I can to give her the opportunity to work for freedom and live in true peace. I hope I have. I know others have given everything in that cause. 3,000 Americans have given their lives so little children like this girl will not live under tyranny. Many thousands more have given years of their lives to fight the rising tide of tyrants in the world.
To those people, I give my sincerest thanks and love, as everyone who reads this should also. They are the ones who make life worth living. It does not matter who these supporters of Freedom are or what they can provide to the effort. The fact that they provide is enough.
Just before Chris left for Afghanistan he e-mailed back and forth to the authors here at FA in one of the REPLY ALL conversations that we have so frequently. He told us that he was headed to Fort Benning, GA and, from there, to the “austere” surroundings of Afghanistan.
At the end of our group conversation I sent Chris an e-mail message. I asked him if it would be OK for our family to pray for him during his deployment and he told me that he would very much appreciate that.
I told him that, though we had never met, I would always be grateful for what he was doing for our country and, more personally, my family.
My wife, my children, and I thought of Chris and prayed for him while he was gone. We are all deeply saddened by his departure.
Our thoughts and prayers are now extended to Shannon and the children as well, as Chris’ mother, and his sister, and the rest of his family and friends. My God cover you and comfort you with fond memories as you travel this stony portion of life’s pathway.
Major Galloway rest well sir, rest well.
In ways you could never have imagined, you really did make a difference. My only regret is that we were unable to help make a difference for you when you needed us most.
All Is Well
Whate’er you dream, with doubt possessed,
Keep, keep it snug within your breast,
And lay you down and take your rest;
And when you wake, to work again,
The wind it blows, the vessel goes,
And where and whither, no one knows.
‘Twill all be well: no need of care;
Though how it will, and when, and where,
We cannot see, and can’t declare.
In spite of dreams, in spite of thought,
‘Tis not in vain, and not for nought,
The wind it blows, the ship it goes,
Though where and whither, no one knows.
- Arthur Hugh Clough
Life has a tendency to throw you a curve ball when you least expect one. This week in a ‘reply all’ email exchange, my fellow Flopping Aces contributors were shocked to discover the sudden loss of a treasured member of our internet family.
I was in awe of the talent, drive and passion that projected from his writings when I first joined the posse. His warm welcome calmed my anxiety of joining such a talented group of bloggers. Chris wasn’t just talking about the WOT, he was part of the story. Through private emails to our group, he fleshed out the story of Afghanistan; yet I always detected a note of hope in his dispatches. God, it hurts to write these words. During his deployment, I sent prayers his way during the weekly rally in West Chester – I will continue to do so for his wife and children.
I’m still trying to come to an understanding with the manner of his death, perhaps settling with never having a clear answer. Instead, I chose to remember Chris through his own words which reveal a passionate patriot, dedicated professional, and doting dad. He tirelessly worked to build a better, safer world for men, women and children halfway across the globe.
Let’s not mourn him, but honor his service by continuing to work for a better nation and a better world:
Turn Again To Life
If I should die and leave you here awhile,
Be not like others, sore undone,
Who keep long vigils by the silent dust and weep.
For my sake – turn to life and smile,
nerving thy heart and trembling hand to do
Something to comfort other hearts than thine.
Complete those dear unfinished tasks of mine
And I , perchance, may therein comfort you.
~Mary Lee Hall
Rest in peace, Major Chris Galloway. You will not be forgotten.
I’ve been noticeably missing the past week or so for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is Army business, but I can’t blame it all on work. At the end of the show, I publicly admitted that I’m having issues dealing with life.
-CJ, writing on June 30th, the very day ChrisG committed suicide.
Back in March, I was about to transition to a new job and had interest in having another go at the military reserves, although I was rejected 2 years ago.
The recruiter I had begun talking to abruptly broke off contact. On March 18th, I sent an email to CJ of A Soldier’s Perspective, venting frustration. He wrote back:
To their credit this time, the Army is busy with a lot of suicide prevention training lately, especially the recruiters. Maybe give them another week, but keep trying!
Just the day before this, CJ had posted on suicide prevention programs within the military.
On March 6th, about 2 weeks earlier, CJ’s post began:
I want to address that Soldier, Marine, Sailor, or Airman that may have come here for answers. You may be contemplating suicide and you’re seeking help over the internet. If this is your only outlet, please seek us out. My email address is on the sidebar and regardless of the time of day, you may contact me. If you need help, I will give you my personal phone number. Above all, don’t go to extremes and try to kill yourself.
I can promise you that this world is a beautiful place and you are an amazing part of it. Please don’t leave people wondering what kind of world it would have been had you stayed in it! There is nothing in this world worthy of taking your life. Believe it or not, a failed relationship, a bad deployment experience, a failed job, delinquent bills, terrible leadership, the loss of a family member or friend – none of that is worth your life. I desperately urge you to take those issues in your life and become something bigger in spite of your problems. There are people who care about you deeply and want to help you through whatever you’re facing right now. We may not understand, but we care and want help you through it. Once you take your life, it can’t be taken back.
If you don’t contact us for help, please go somewhere. Check out www.militaryonesource.com for people that can help. Go to your chain of command. Seek out a complete stranger. Go to a hospital or police department. Just do something besides trying to take your life. I don’t know you personally, but I’d like to.
Although I’ve never met Chris, and had only limited contact and conversations with him, it’s difficult for any of us- his friends and family members most of all- not to wonder what we could have done to have made the difference in his life that might have given him that one moment of pause he needed to get him through. I had seen CJ’s post in March; around June or July, CJ himself came to grips with his own need to reach out for professional help and was diagnosed with PTSD. Chris ended his life in late June.
The “what if’s” inevitably begin to swirl around in my head: What if I had followed through with a blogpost of my own, then? Even just simply linked to CJ’s important post? Like so many intended posts, it never got made…Would Chris have seen it? Read it? Remembered it in his time of need? Contacted CJ? Sought help? Or would events have unfolded the way they did, anyway? What if I had bothered to correspond more with Chris? Sent him a kind word of support about how much we admire him for the hard job that he does daily for our country? Would I have noticed any possible signs that he was in trouble?
Having had an uncle who took his own life, I will say that the grief and guilt of those loved ones left behind can be enormous.
It wasn’t unusual for Chris to not post often (given the nature of his work); but it was a bit unusual that he wouldn’t chime in a response to a group discussion by his FA cohorts just to let us know he was there, listening in; or to leave a comment on one of the FA blog posts, often caustically biting the head off a liberal moonbat in the process. Something…anything. Often, his correspondence would come in spurts. This long stretch around, I figured he was just too busy out there saving the world; stupidly not realizing he might need saving himself.
I admired Chris greatly for the sacrifices he made- for the life he lived for a cause greater than self. He was every inch the epitome of what one wanted in an American soldier: Brave, dedicated, compassionate, humorous, patriotic, and…*ahem*…..staunchly conservative. He loved his country and loved his family; and I am sure he loved life. Love of all three drove him to defend his country, his family, and the lives of the innocent. And for these things, more than for his FA contributions, I greatly thank him. America’s lost a true patriot; his wife has lost a husband who was crazy about her; and his children have lost a father who adored them. And THAT, is the most heartbreaking of all. As valuable as Chris is as a warrior to his country, warriors can be replaced; fathers cannot.
I can only pray that somewhere in heaven, Chris Galloway has found his peace. And that here back on earth, his wife, children, and those other loved ones he left behind will know theirs…
Dear brothers and sisters in arms, we CANNOT afford to close ourselves off from our families. They are the only ones that can see us through the difficulties of deployment. They are the best thing we have in dealing with our issues and understanding our sacrifices and duties. They sacrifice with us while we are gone and if we shut them out, we denigrate THEIR sacrifices.
It’s hard to ratchet down to the CONUS mindset knowing that in just 12 short months, you’ll be back in the combat mindset, but it’s something that must happen for the sake of our futures and our families’ futures. It would be different if there was a definite end date to these wars we’re fighting, but the enemy has a vote. We don’t now, so we need to take every step possible to find normalcy in the sea of conflict and combat we are so frequently subjected to.
If we can’t lean on and support our families, who can we turn to? Our non-military friends have no idea. Most communities have no clue. Our fellow troops have their own problems and marriages to worry about (though they are also a source to be tapped into). Our families should be our number one priority, not the Army, not the mission. Nothing should hold a higher priority in our lives except maybe our God.
If you make the Army a career, it will last 20-30 years. Your family will be there for much longer if you do it right. Why let something so temporary as the Army take precedence over something you’ve sworn to protect for “time and all eternity” or “until death do you part?”
Yes, the war is draining us emotionally and physically, but if we don’t take the battle to the enemy, they will bring it back home again. We are stronger than that. We cannot let them win by killing us physically and mentally abroad and killing our marriages back home.
-CJ, August 4th, Troops MUST Reintegrate Into Their Families
I want to thank my fellow writers for their moving tributes to Chris and the thoughtful, soul searching that we have shared together as we try to come to grips with this sad news. My friends have done such an exemplary job of addressing the issue and I join with them in expressing our heartfelt condolences to Chris’s family and especially to his children.
We’ll never understand, nor accept, why he took his own life. How can we? A man who was willing to give up his life in the service of his country should be the last person to take his own life and abandon his young family. It’s so sad to think that there was no one able to reach Chris before this tragedy occurred.
We all know that being deployed for long periods overseas places enormous strains on families. But until very recently, the suicide rate among our troops was at or below that of the population in general. This isn’t about the military. This is about a life lost. This is about a man, a father and a husband who lost his way and went down a dark path from which there is no coming back; no second chance. I doubt he choose that path. Some form of stress, or eruption of mental illness drove him down that path. The real tragedy here is that no one was able to reach him in time to save him.
If there is a “teachable moment” here it is to charge each of us with the responsiblity to extend a hand to anyone in similar danger. They may try and push us away, but that should only make us more determined to reach out and see to it they get the help they need. It’s not an easy thing to do and we may not succeed, but we must try.
People often wonder: what is the meaning of life? Why am I here? The answer is simple: we are put on this planet to love and care for others. If we can reach out and save just one soul in trouble then we are fulfilling our life’s mission.
More pictures from Chris
Shannon, Chris’s wife, forwarded me some pictures to put up. They were taken one week after he arrived home from Afghanistan: (click to enlarge)