Lt. Col Max A. Galeai- October 2009 Shipment Honoree
Suicide bomber kills 3 Hawaii MarinesBy Mary Vorsino
The commanding officer of a Hawaii-based battalion of more than 1,000 Marines and sailors died Thursday in Iraq in an attack that also killed two other Kaneohe Marines, the military said yesterday.
Lt. Col. Max A. Galeai, 42, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines at Kaneohe’s Marine Corps Base Hawaii, is believed to have been killed in the town of Karmah in Anbar province, about 30 miles west of Baghdad, in a suicide bomb attack.
Also killed in the attack were Capt. Phil Dykeman, 38, of New York, the leader of the battalion’s Fox Company, and 23-year-old Cpl. Marcus W. Preudhomme, of North Miami Beach, Fla.
A member of an extremist cell believed to be behind the suicide attack has been arrested, the U.S. military said yesterday. U.S. spokesmen said it was unclear if the suspect, who was not identified, was directly involved in planning Thursday’s attack, according to a report by The Associated Press.
A suicide bomber reportedly dressed in a police uniform detonated an explosive belt during a meeting of tribal sheiks opposed to al-Qaida in Iraq. In addition to the three Marines, two Iraqi interpreters, the local mayor and several key tribal figures were killed.
Kaneohe Marine Corps Base officials would only confirm that the three were killed in Anbar.
The bombing occurred just two days before U.S. officials planned to formally hand over security responsibility for Anbar to the Iraqis, marking a major milestone in the transformation of a province that had been the most violent in Iraq.
The handover was postponed yesterday — but due to weather, not the attack, officials said. Weather forecasts called for high winds and sandstorms, which would ground aircraft and make it impossible for dignitaries to attend, officials said.
Anbar, which extends from the western outskirts of Baghdad to the borders of Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia, will be the 10th of Iraq’s 18 provinces to return to Iraqi security control. The other nine provinces are dominated by Shiites or Kurds.
Galeai and the other two Marines are the first fatalities of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines in this deployment, which started in February. The battalion is set to return in August.
Since the war started, 84 Hawaii-based Marines and sailors have died in Iraq.
Friends yesterday remembered Galeai, of Pago Pago, American Samoa, as a dedicated family man, a natural leader and a caring buddy who would never burden others with his problems. Just last week, in the midst of his deployment in Iraq, he sent e-mails to friends with jokes about the hot weather and friendly queries about how they were doing.
“I’m trying to cope with the fact that he’s no longer with us,” said Marine Master Gunnery Sgt. Taumaoe Gaoteote, of California, a longtime friend.
“I didn’t know how to react when I heard. I never thought it would actually happen to him.”
In a newsletter for families of Kaneohe-based Marines, Galeai wrote in February that during the deployment, battalion members would be “working with Iraqi police, Iraqi army and other(s) … as we help the Iraqi people establish the conditions necessary for them to assume responsibility for their own security and local governance.”
One of Galeai’s friends, Marine Master Gunnery Sgt. Paul Moniz, of New York, said he heard from Galeai about a week ago in an e-mail. Galeai didn’t talk much about what he was doing in Iraq, but made sure to ask Moniz about how he was holding up.
“He was a friend, mentor, bigger than life, extremely bright, just one of those guys,” Moniz said.
Moniz, who used to work under Galeai, said the officer always “sunk his teeth into his work” and expected a lot from people, but also praised them when they delivered. “He was definitely an inspirational guy. He was caring, compassionate.”
Master Sgt. Brett W. Beard, of California, also used to work under Galeai and quickly befriended him.
“He just made it super easy to go out there to work day after day,” Galeai said. “His first love was always leading Marines.”
This was Galeai’s second deployment to Iraq.
Galeai graduated from Oregon State University in 1988, and joined the Marines out of college.
Before coming to the Islands in 2007, he served in Virginia, California, Okinawa and elsewhere. His service awards include two Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart and five Meritorious Service Medals.
Gaoteote said Galeai is survived by his wife, Evelyn, and four children.
Dykeman, the leader of Fox Company, joined the Marines in June 1991 and came to Hawaii in May 2007. He has been awarded a host of medals, including the Purple Heart.
Preudhomme joined the Marines in 2005, and was sent to Hawaii the same year.
His awards include the Purple Heart and the Combat Action Ribbon, the Marines said.
Lt. Gov. Faoa A. Sunia Offers Condolences on Death of Lt. Col. Max A. Galea’i in IraqBy Tapuitea Thursday July 3, 2008
(UTULEI) – Lt. Governor Faoa Aitofele Sunia offered the following statement on Sunday, June 29th, on the death of Lt. Col. Max A. Galea’i in the province of Anbar, Iraq. “On behalf of Governor Togiola Tulafono and the people and government of
American Samoa, I offer my deepest sympathies to the family of Lt. Colonel Max A. Galea’i, who gave his life in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. His death is a great loss to American Samoa and the Kaneohe Marine Base in Hawai’i.” Lt. Col. Galea’i, 42 years old, was the commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines at Kaneohe’s Marine Corps Base in Hawai’i. He and two other Marines and other Iraqis were killed on Wednesday, June 26th, when a suicide bomber, reportedly dressed in a police uniform, detonated an explosive belt during a meeting of tribal sheiks opposed to Al-Quaida in Iraq.
Lt. Col. Max A. Galea’i is the son of the late Tafaoa Pati and Kalala Galea’i of Leone, American Samoa. He is married to Evelyn Ho Ching Galea’i and they have four children. He has four sisters and three brothers. Lt. Col. Galea’i grew up in the village of Leone, and spent much time along side his uncle, the late Senator Faiivae A. Galea’i. He graduated from Marist High School in 1983 and Oregon State University in 1988. He is remembered by his family and fellow Marines as a caring and exceptional leader. Lt. Col.
Galea’i’s bravery and sacrifice will always be remembered as he willingly served America to protect the freedom of the world. The 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines were deployed in February and were scheduled to return in September. I ask all of American Samoa to unite in prayer for the comfort of his family during this time of great sorrow and grief. I offer our sincerest condolences to his wife, Evelyn Ho Ching Galea’i, their
four children, his mother Kalala Galea’i, his siblings and the entire Taeleifi and aumuina
families who have suffered a great loss. Let us also remember the more than 1,000 Marines who were under Lt. Col. Max Galea’i’s command. May God’s grace give them strength to complete their tour without their leader.”
Lt. Col. Max A. Galeai –a great man!By Wesley R. Gray, Ph.D.
Lt. Col. Max Galeai died these past few days in Iraq. I worked with him extensively during my time in Okinawa. During the Yama Sakura 48 3 week exercise he was the command operation center head watch officer and was consistently yelling for “Lt. Gray to get his ass over here and explain what the enemy was doing.” The exercise was my ‘welcome to the Marine Corps moment’ and was made all the more hectic and exciting alongside Lt. Col. Galeai. He was a great man to work for and a great man to be around.
Upon my return from Iraq, I saw Lt. Col. Galeai once again in Okinawa. This time he was working in the 3rd Division’s G-3 operations section. I saw him daily and he was always happy and doing well–always stopping to say, “Hello, Wes, good afternoon.”
Because he was such a great officer and leader, Max was chosen to be a battalion commander for 2/3–his last duty assignment.
2/3 has a special place in my heart, as this was the battalion that saved our ass on numerous occasions when I was in the Haditha Triad training Iraqis on a MiTT–my feelings go out to the battalion for losing their great leader, Lt. Col. Max Galeai. He was a great Marine and a legend in my mind. Semper Fi, Wes