John Galvin
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
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
  Defense Distinguished Service Medal
  Army Distinguished Service Medal
  Silver Star
  Legion of Merit (3)
  Distinguished Flying Cross
  Soldier's Medal
  Bronze Star (3)
  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, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Soldiers Medal.[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 served with the Army Combat Development Command, from 1970 to 1972, as a Military Assistant with Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), from 1974 to 1975 and commanded the 24th Infantry Division in the early 1980s. He was promoted to lieutenant general and commanded the VII Corps in Germany from July 1983 to February 1985.

Galvin's career included the rare opportunity to command two different Department of Defense Unified Commands following his promotion to full (4-star) general. 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

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]

Selected awards and decorations

Combat Infantryman Badge
1st Row Defense Distinguished Service Medal
with oak leaf cluster
Army Distinguished Service Medal
with oak leaf cluster
2nd Row
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
3rd Row
Legion of Merit
with two oak leaf clusters
Distinguished Flying Cross
Soldier's Medal
4th Row
Bronze Star Medal
with two oak leaf clusters
Air Medal
with V Device
National Defense Service Medal
with one bronze service star
5th Row
Vietnam Service Medal
with three bronze campaign stars
Army Service Ribbon
Army Overseas Service Ribbon
6th Row
Great Cross of Merit with star
(Federal Republic of Germany)
Bavarian Order of Merit
Légion d'honneur
Grand Officier
7th Row
Order of Military Merit
Grand Cross
Order of Orange-Nassau
Grand Cross, 1992
Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
Senior Parachutist Badge



See also


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