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Gallego earns Military Police Warrior Hall of Fame honor

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Gallego earns Military Police Warrior Hall of Fame honor

Sam Gallego, 19, after receiving honors during a ceremony at Ft. Leonard Wood, MO.

Photo contributed/

POSTED January 29, 2009 2:41 a.m.

Winning a coveted spot in the Military Police Warrior Hall of Fame Sam,  Gallego, 19, is following in his dad’s footsteps toward a career in law enforcement – one of seven out of 7,000 to go through training at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri.

He was also named a “Top Gun” for the expert rating he received in the use of the M4A1 carbine and the Beretta semi-automatic hand gun.

The new MP was credited with direct hits in 39 out of 40 shots at pop-up targets with the M4 carbine at distances of 50-100-150-200-250 and 300 meters.  His one miss was at 150 meters.  He qualified as an expert marksman with 50 out of 50 on the carbine and the M9 semi-automatic pistol.

Because of his expert ranking Gallego was given the opportunity to fire a hand-held AT-4 Rocket Launcher at a tank at some 200 yards.  He found the exact sweet spot  - an 18-inch section of metal just below the turret and above the drive tracks – blowing up the tank on his first try.  Not too many people hit it, he said.

He also did well firing a grenade launcher from the turret of a Humvee.  “I went crazy on it.  The sergeant gave me more grenades because I was doing so well,” he said.  Gallego fired nearly 100 grenades at targets while another trainee was driving at combat speed shooting at truck and wooden targets.  He had to hand load 36 grenades at a time while standing in the turret.    

His dad, the senior Sam Gallego, is a detective with the Manteca Police Department’s street crimes unit, and a long-time member of the Manteca department.   He was involved with the U.S. Navy Seals before going into law enforcement.  His son‘s plan is to devote five years to the military and then find his place in a city police department.

“He always wanted to follow in his dad’s footsteps,” recalled his mom, Shirley.

The Manteca detective received a leather jacket from his son in the mail recently  that he has been wearing on duty with “Military Police” emblazoned on the back and crossed pistols – showing ultimate pride in his son.  “He likes that jacket – he’s always wearing it,” Sam said.

Gallego – who shares a unique bonding with his son – said Sammy has always been a patriot following the ethics and the reputation of his grandfather, Al Gallego, of French Camp.  His grandpa  served as a radio and infantry man and was involved in the liberation of France right after the Normandy invasion.

The new MP has always been impressed with the stories told by his great uncle Sal Soloman, now of San Diego, who served as a master sergeant in Korea where he was held as a prisoner of war for three years.

As a teen, Gallego was no stranger to many Manteca officers going on some nine ride-alongs in patrol units over the last couple of years.  Gallego has witnessed everything from domestic violence calls to at least one armed robbery call – having many one-on-one chats with area patrolmen.

His mother Shirley also recalls her son’s youth where he was always an independent thinker – always doing what was right.  “That was not always the popular thing to do, but he always did the right thing,” she said.

After destroying the military tank with a rocket launcher,  friends told his parents they knew that was Sam’s passion in life to be in the army from the time he was a 2-year-old.  His mother said she was going through his clothes at home prior to his returning to base in Missouri and found an army uniform that he wore as a toddler – at three years old.

Gallego told his mother he remembered wearing it, but he couldn’t believe that it was actually that many years ago and that he was really that little.

Gallego near perfect example of a soldier

Induction into the Military Police Hall of Fame requires exemplary marks in all phases of the criminal justice training and PT - physical training.  He was a near perfect example of a soldier.

The PT training phase saw Gallego score 292 points out of a possible 300.  He completed 73 sit-ups in two minutes and 72 push-ups in the same 120-second period.  Gallego finished the two mile run in hilly terrain in 12 minutes and 56 seconds with a field pack on his back.

Gallego also completed a 10-K fast march with a 40-pound combat pack in 60 minutes being allowed 75 minutes to complete the event.  He said he ran most all the way to the finish.

The Army private said he always wanted to be a cop since he was a child.  “I wanted to be just like my dad and always wanted to be in the Army since being a little kid,” he remembers.

The MP desire came after graduating from high school in a path that would help him become a civilian officer.    

He hopes to become part of a special response SWAT team in the military and will possibly see that training in his future with the Army’s military police.  Gallego would also like to be assigned as a canine officer as was his dad with the Manteca department.  The elder Sam had two canine partners in the past: Kati and Bud.

Like many career standouts, Gallego found those special teachers in his third and fifth grade experiences going the extra mile for him.  “They really helped me out with school,” he said.

One teacher recognized his talent for freehand drawing, and she signed him up for a Stockton area art class.  In his junior year in high school a history and civics teacher had a big impact on him he said.  “He supported the military very well and he supported us 100 percent – very outgoing and motivated.”

He had only good things to say about his drill sergeant, Dale Dukes.  “He pushed me that extra mile – he was a good teacher and very motivating,” he said.

Sgt. Dukes walked up to Gallego’s parents – Sam and Shirley – the day before  the awards ceremony at the training center, and told them their son is the “epitome of a soldier.”

While most of his classmates were sent to Korea, Ft. Lewis, Washington, Ft. Gordon,  and Ft. Riley,  Gallego was assigned to his current base at Ft. Leonard Wood where he will undoubtedly see advance training in his military police assignment.

He said the weather is ever-changing there with it being hot one minute and some five minutes later there can be sleet and ice and then back to being hot.

Gallego spent much of his youth involved in wrestling at the Swiss Club in Ripon where he remembers a Manteca canine officer, Grant Flory and his dog “Spike,” coming by the outside ring.  “We used to play with ‘Spike’  throughout middle school and high school,” he recalled.

The “hall of famer” was home for two weeks and is scheduled to return to his Missouri base on Thursday of this week. While home,  he worked with the U.S.  Army Recruiting Office on North Main Street, and was part of a recruiting effort at Bass Pro Shops.

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