Children of a Nevada Army National Guard soldier killed during a training accident last week said Sunday they’re proud of his service and will always look up to him.
Nevada Army Guard Staff Sgt. David Gallagher, 51, died Tuesday after an M1 Abrams tank rolled over during a training exercise at Fort Irwin, California.
“It’s hard,” said Shaylea Gallagher, his oldest daughter. “We all miss our dad. But we know that the Army was his life and he’s up there going, ‘You know what? I went out doing what I loved.’ ”
David Gallagher joined the Army in 1988 and joined the National Guard in 2009. When Shaylea Gallagher was in high school, her dad missed her first prom because he was deployed in Afghanistan.
His son, Joshua Boothe, said his father inspired him to join the same National Guard, and they served together.
“When David came back from Afghanistan, there was a lot of camaraderie between the units and everybody was a big family, and I needed that,” Boothe said. “So I looked forward to that and embraced that.”
David Gallagher, an armor crewman, was assigned to the Nevada Army National Guard’s 1st Squadron, 221st Cavalry Regiment stationed in Las Vegas. His squadron was participating in a monthlong series of training exercises at Fort Irwin.
“We are saddened by the events that happened to our soldiers at Fort Irwin,” Nevada Army National Guard Chief of Staff Col. Cory Schulz said. “Sgt. Gallagher was a motivated, dedicated noncommissioned officer who will be greatly missed. As soldiers we strive every day to live up to the example set by him. Again, our thoughts go out to his family and loved ones.”
David Gallagher spent much of his life in Nevada, his daughter said, and he loved the state. Out of uniform, David Gallagher was generous and humorous, his family said. He was a fan of the Miami Dolphins and the Golden Knights.
“It still breaks my heart that he never got to saw the Dolphins win the Super Bowl,” Shaylea Gallagher said, but she’ll be rooting for them in his place from now on.
She said her dad’s favorite holiday was Christmas. He used to leave his kids’ names off their presents to keep them from shaking the boxes to guess what was inside.
One of her favorite memories of her dad is having a water fight in the kitchen with him, her siblings and her stepmother.
“He always had this laugh where you knew if you did something he was going to get you back,” she said. “The entire kitchen was soaked.”
Boothe said there was nothing his father wouldn’t do for his fellow soldiers or for anyone in need. He said the hardest part of his father’s death has been watching his family mourn.
“We’re going to get through it together, because that’s what we do,” Boothe said. “You push forward.”
Three other men from Las Vegas were injured in the training accident: Sgt. Christian Tijerina, 27; Pfc. Brandon Fuka, 20; and Pfc. Zachary Little, 19. All three went to Weed Army Community Hospital in Fort Irwin, where they were treated and released.
The National Guard is still investigating the training accident.