Bernard Gallahan turned 91 on Oct. 25, but there’s more to note about his life than his experiences living through The Great Depression, Prohibition and the terms of 16 U.S. presidents.
Gallahan is also one of 10 brothers born in Neersville who fought in World War II—the record for the largest number of siblings from the same two parents to fight in the war. Seven brothers served in the U.S. Army, two served in the Air Force and one in the Marines. Gallahan, a private first class, fought as a paratrooper with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division in the Mediterranean Theater. Although none of his brothers were killed in combat, Gallahan is the only one alive today.
In 1946, Gallahan enlisted in the Army and was sent to basic training at Fort Lee. His first deployment landed him in the 88th Infantry Division in Italy along the Po River. A year later, he went to jump school at Fort Benning in Georgia before being assigned to the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment and fighting battles in Italy and in the D-Day invasion.
Gallahan said that even though he didn’t die at war, its lasting effects still haunt him in the form of back pain, which he’s had for 73 years and attributes to the heavy sacks he had to carry in combat.
Following his discharge in 1949, Gallahan worked as a brick mason and, for the last 23 years of his career, managed the estate of an East Coast oil tycoon.
Gallahan lives with his wife, Violet, in Purcellville.