A cake. Teasing and tributes from teammates, family, and friends — it’s exactly what you’d expect at the retirement party for a decorated Navy SEAL, winding down twenty years of grueling service for his nation.
Except of course, if you’re Eddie Gallagher. Then your retirement gets covered by the UK Daily Mail, for one last shot at your reputation and character.
Eddie gathered with a close group of friends, family, and well-wishers including Rep. Ralph Norman (SC-5) over the weekend to celebrate his retirement from the SEALs and begin the next chapter of his life.
Teammates and childhood friends told stories of growing up with Eddie, his perseverance, dedication to his missions and devotion to his wife and family.
His father Joe recounted a story about his son:
“A few months ago, during the trial I was walking away from the Navy yard to get a Lyft ride back. A reporter from BBC walked up to me and asked me to make a comment on Eddie’s character, I told her, “that Ed was an extremely loyal person.”
She asked me what that means and I repeated that loyalty was extremely important to Eddie.
As Ed grew, it became apparent to me that if I was not going to screw things up I needed to pay attention to Eddie’s friends. When we lived in Springfield, Virginia, Ed was eight and had two friends, Jason Greene and Scott Bacon. Jason was very tall and Scott, a little taller than Eddie.
One day a neighbor knocked on the door with his son, accusing Ed and his friends of beating his son up. There was a discussion of calling the police. As we sorted things out, it became apparent that the son was a bully with a gang of four or five, who all jumped Jason. By himself, Eddie stopped the fight and the gang ran away. In the end the father realized he had to work on his son’s behavior. Jason and Scott became lifelong friends."
The story illustrates a facet of Eddie Gallagher's character that has never wavered throughout his life: loyalty, and defending those who cannot defend themselves.
At his retirement, one of Eddie’s teammates said, “When your nation called upon you as a warrior these past 20 years, you were always there. Always running towards the sound of that fire. Never away.”
That same friend mentioned visiting Eddie in the brig, during his eight months in confinement. "Eddie told him he got through the days trying to help out another SEAL there who was having a hard time."
Fighting for those who cannot fight alone is a mission Eddie is carrying forward with his wife Andrea and their newly-formed initiative, The Pipe Hitter Foundation, which will raise money to assist other service members and police officers who’ve been wrongfully accused. These issues can’t be addressed or combated unless they’re talked about publicly. It was that public discussion about Eddie’s case that shed light on the corrupt prosecution from the military establishment, and caught the attention of the commander in chief.
All of the serious charges against Eddie were dropped. Corruption in the military justice system was exposed. But that hasn’t stopped critics of Eddie from continuing to attempt to smear his image and record.
Joe Gallagher’s story about Eddie’s childhood also illustrates another theme that has followed Eddie throughout his life: there are always two sides to everything. In his childhood case, the bully wasn’t Eddie, but the neighbor kid next door who led a gang that jumped Eddie’s friends.
Decades later, Eddie is still fighting that existential fight for truth.