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In Memoriam: Rear Admiral Salvatore F. Gallo, USN (Ret.)

Jan. 6, 2023 | By Sam Cox (Rear Adm. USN, Ret.), Director, Naval History and Heritage Command
It is with deep regret that I inform you of the passing of Rear Admiral (upper half) Salvatore Frank Gallo on 13 December 2022 at age 86. Rear Admiral Gallo enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve in March 1955 and served as a naval aviator until his retirement in September 1993 as the Assistant Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (N1B)/Deputy Chief of Naval Personnel. His commands included Patrol Squadron TWO FOUR (VP-24), Patrol Wing FIVE (PATWING 5), Patrol Wings Atlantic (COMPATWINGSLANT), and Fleet Air Mediterranean (COMFAIRMED)/Task Force SIX SEVEN (CTF-67). Frank Gallo enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve on 23 March 1955 while a member of the cadet regiment at the State of New York (SUNY) Maritime College. In 1957, he graduated with a bachelor of science in marine engineering and a Merchant Marine third engineer’s license in steam and diesels. He was honorably discharged from the Naval Reserve on 15 December 1958 and was commissioned an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve the next day with rank to date from 19 August 1958. He reported for active duty in January 1959 and was assigned to amphibious command ship Estes (AGC-12) while it was deployed to the Far East for amphibious exercises in Japan, Okinawa, Korea, and Borneo. He was promoted to lieutenant (junior grade) in February 1960.

Selected for naval aviation, Lieutenant (j.g.) Gallo reported to the Naval Aviation Basic Training Course at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida, in July 1960. In June 1961, he continued flight training at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, and was designated a naval aviator on 13 November 1961. He then reported for duty under instruction at Fleet Airborne Electronics Training Unit Atlantic. 

In February 1962, Gallo reported to VP-30 at NAS Jacksonville, Florida, for flight training in the P2V Neptune maritime patrol aircraft (designator shortly after changed to P-2E). That April, he was assigned to VP-23 at NAS Brunswick, Maine, and deployed to NAS Sigonella, Sicily, Italy, from August to November 1962. The deployment included Mediterranean alert operations tracking Soviet activity during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He was promoted to lieutenant in September 1962. He deployed with the squadron to NAS Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 1963, following an unsuccessful search for the lost nuclear submarine Thresher (SSN-593). He augmented into the active U.S. Navy in March 1964. In June 1965, Lieutenant Gallo reported to the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California. He was promoted to lieutenant commander in August 1967 and earned a master of science degree in aeronautical engineering in 1968. 

In June 1968, Lieutenant Commander Gallo commenced a training track at Naval Schools Command, Newport, Rhode Island. He was then assigned as communications officer on the staff of Carrier Division TWO ZERO (COMCARDIV 20), initially embarked on antisubmarine warfare carrier Essex (CVS-9) and then Intrepid (CVS-11) before CARDIV 20 was disestablished. He was subsequently assigned to CARDIV 14, embarked on Wasp (CVS-18). This was followed in January 1971 by training at Fleet Airborne Electronics Training Unit Atlantic, and then with flight training in the P-3B Orion maritime patrol aircraft with VP-30 at NAS Jacksonville. 

In June 1971, Lieutenant Commander Gallo was assigned as safety and operations officer to VP-11, based at NAS Brunswick. In July 1972, the squadron received emergency deployment orders to the Vietnam war zone, and subsequently operated from NAS Cubi Point, Philippines, with a detachment at Utapao, Thailand. Operations were hampered by record-breaking rainfall in the Philippines. However, the squadron would be awarded a Philippines Presidential Unit Citation for its role in humanitarian relief operations resulting from the disastrous rains. Gallo was promoted to commander in May 1973. 

In August 1973, Commander Gallo reported as a student to the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, graduating with distinction in 1974. Following refresher flight training with VP-30 at NAS Jacksonville, he assumed duty as executive officer of VP-24 in November 1974, and then assumed command of that squadron in November 1975. During this period, VP-24 experimented with “mini-detachments” to Bermuda and Lajes, Azores, as well as reacting to the major Soviet worldwide naval exercise Okean-75. In December 1976, Commander Gallo was assigned as operations officer for PATWING 5 at NAS Brunswick. In March 1970, he reported to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) in Washington, DC, as P-3 program coordinator in the air warfare directorate (OP-05). He was promoted to captain in August 1979. 

In March 1980, Captain Gallo assumed duty as the executive assistant to the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Air Warfare (OP-05) in the Office of the CNO. Following training at the Naval Amphibious School, Virginia, in June 1981, Gallo assumed command of PATWING 11 at NAS Jacksonville in July. From there, he was selected in September 1982 to serve as executive assistant to Admiral Wesley McDonald, Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic/Commander-in-Chief U.S. Atlantic Command/Commander-in-Chief U.S. Atlantic Fleet (SACLANT/CINCLANT/CINCLANTFLT) in Norfolk, Virginia. On 23 April 1985, Captain Gallo was designated a rear admiral (lower half) for duty in a billet commensurate with that rank. 

In July 1985, Rear Admiral Gallo assumed command of COMPATWINGSLANT and was promoted to rear admiral (lower half) on 1 November 1985. He was subsequently designated a rear admiral (upper half) for duty in a billet commensurate with that rank on 18 May 1987. In July 1987, Gallo assumed command of COMFAIRMED/CTF-67 in Naples, Italy. He was promoted to rear admiral (upper half) on 1 November 1987. In February 1990, Gallo reported to the Office of the CNO as Assistant Deputy CNO for Manpower and Personnel (N1B)/Deputy Chief of Naval Personnel. He retired on 1 September 1993. 

Rear Admiral Gallo’s awards include the Distinguished Service Medal; Defense Superior Service Medal; Legion of Merit (three awards); Meritorious Service Medal (two awards); Air Medal with numeral “1”; Navy Commendation Medal; Navy Achievement Medal; Navy Unit Commendation; U.S. Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation with “O” device; National Defense Service Medal (two awards); Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; Vietnam Service Medal (one campaign star); Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (one bronze star); Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon (two bronze stars); Federal Republic of Germany Federal Armed Services Commendation Cross in Silver; Philippine Presidential Unit Citation; Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Commendation (Gallantry Cross); Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Commendation (Civil Action Color); and the Navy Expert Pistol Shot Medal. 

Following his retirement from active duty, Rear Admiral Gallo served as national executive director of the Armed Services YMCA from 1994 to 2011. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus, a lector at St. Michael’s Catholic Church, and a math tutor at St. Michael’s Academy (both in Annandale, Virginia). He also served as a docent at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. He and his wife also established the Rear Admiral S. Frank Gallo USN 57 and JoAnne B. Gallo Endowment scholarship fund for deserving members of the regiment of cadets at SUNY Maritime College. In 2018, he was inducted into the Maritime Patrol Association Hall of Honor. 

Military funeral services will be held at Arlington National Cemetery at a date to be determined. 

Aside from his start with a Merchant Marine engineer’s license, Frank Gallo’s career reads like the optimal maritime patrol community path right out of detailer orientation. However, taking all the right jobs means nothing unless coupled with extraordinary performance and superb leadership, and he demonstrated both in abundance. His career was closely coupled with the increase, peak, and ultimate fading of the Soviet submarine threat. As Soviet submarines began to deploy to the western Atlantic (and eastern Pacific) in increasing numbers—and increasing capability—in the early 1960s, the P-2 Neptune and then P-3 Orion ASW aircraft operating from bases in the United States and on islands in the Atlantic increasingly became front-line units in the defense of our nation. The threat increased even more with Soviet submarines armed with nuclear ballistic missiles frequently approaching U.S. shores, which resulted in perilously short time of flight (and therefore warning) between potential missile launch and impact. Submarines approaching within a certain range would provoke higher alert states, and frequent scrambles by P-3 aircraft. Fortunately, the combination of U.S. intelligence, underwater surveillance arrays, maritime patrol aircraft, and U.S. submarines ensured that Soviet submarines in the Atlantic rarely remained unlocated for long, convincing the Soviets that their submarine nuclear deterrent was not survivable and causing them to adopt a bastion defense strategy. Even then, their ballistic missile boats could be held at risk and their efforts to counter this ultimately contributed to the collapse of the Soviet economic house of cards. Frank Gallo and the P-3 community played a significant role in that, and he was around long enough to see the Soviet submarine readiness drop off the charts in the late 1980s. Like other branches of the U.S. Navy, service in the maritime patrol community required dedication and sacrifice of time with family, and he served in locations all around the globe, including an emergency deployment in support of the war in Vietnam. Frank did everything the Navy asked of him, and did it exceptionally well. His actions contributed to the end of the existential threat to our nation during the Cold War. The Navy and our nation are grateful for his superb service.

Rest in Peace, Admiral Gallo.