Dan Gallery cut a colorful path during his 44-year naval career. His parents decreed that three of their four sons would go into the Navy and the fourth would enter the church. “Three of us eventually turned out to be rear admirals,” he remembered. “The other one went straight; he’s a priest.”
At age 16, Gallery entered the U.S. Naval Academy at the onset of U.S. involvement in World War I. He graduated a year early, in 1920. He was a good student, wrestled at 125 pounds, won most bouts by falls, and went on to the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp. “I didn’t do too well in the Olympics. I met a Finn there who was just a little too much for me to handle,” he noted.
Gallery’s Naval Institute oral history covers his early service in the USS Delaware (BB-28) to his 1956–1960 role as Commander, Caribbean Sea Frontier—where he established the Navy’s first steel-drum band, “Admiral Dan’s Pandemoniacs.” Ever fearless, his capture of the German U-boat U-505 and his writings as part of the post-World War II “Revolt of the Admirals” stand out.
In 1942–1943, Gallery commanded a PBY squadron flying from Iceland; the mission was protecting convoys and hunting submarines. His crews sank five or six U-boats, but he wondered: Why not capture them instead of sinking them? “The idea would be that we’d cripple this guy and force him to the surface,” he explained. “And then we’d come along and we’d land right close to him. We’d taxi up and put one wing over the deck, throw grappling hooks over him and get hold of him. Meanwhile, we’d have our machine guns peppering away at the conning tower to keep people down below. And we’d get a couple of people over onto the sub, and we’d get possession of the thing.”
In June 1943, Gallery took command of the jeep carrier USS Guadalcanal (CVE-60). The tide was turning against the U-boats, thanks in part to new fleet reports pinpointing the subs’ tracks. In June 1944, the Guadalcanal’s aircraft and accompanying destroyers located U-505 running submerged, blasted her, and forced her to the surface.
Seeing the German crew leap overboard, Gallery dispatched a daring boarding party and took U-505 in tow. His men told him they would have to enter the flooded, booby-trapped aft compartment to unjam the rudder and bring the sub into towing trim. “I went back to the after torpedo room, and the watertight door was closed,” he recounted. “The main panel on the door had an open cover of a fuse box lying across it. . . . I looked it over, and I decided that it was not a booby trap. So I closed the cover of the fuse box. One of the nice things about that sort of business is that you find out right away whether you were right or not.”
The carrier towed U-505—an invaluable intelligence and operational prize—2,500 miles to Bermuda.
In 1945, Gallery took command of the USS Hancock (CV-19), and then with the war over, was promoted to rear admiral with command of a pierside, San Diego-based skeleton-crew carrier division that he described as “Operation Stagnate.” His next orders brought him to the Pentagon, with official responsibilities as Assistant Chief of Naval Operations for Missiles and with the self-appointed mission of doing battle with Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson and all involved in “the unification uproar” who were trying to promote the Air Force while tearing down the Navy and Marine Corps.
As a player in the Revolt of the Admirals, Gallery started writing anti-unification articles for the Saturday Evening Post. “I got my tail in quite a crack with Louis Johnson,” he remembered. “He issued several directives which were addressed to the Secretaries of the Army and Navy about what people could write about . . . they were addressed to the secretaries; they weren’t addressed to me.”
Gallery kept writing, following Naval Regulations, which required that articles not disclose classified information and “one or two other things like that.” When an article was accepted for publication, the author was required to submit it to the Secretary of the Navy for information. But at that point the publisher already had it and was going to publish it.
Following his departure from Washington, Gallery wrote another article, “If This Be Treason,” for Colliers. Secretary of the Navy Francis Matthews blew his stack, saying it was treason and demanding a general court martial. As matters simmered down, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Forrest Sherman sent Gallery a Letter of Admonition. “I looked up ‘admonition’ in the dictionary,” Gallery recalled. “It’s defined as friendly advice. I figured it was the equivalent of a letter of commendation. So that was that.”