Thursday, June 26, 2008

Marine Lt. Col. Max A. Galeai

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lt. Col. Max A. Galeai, 42, of Pago Pago, American Samoa

Lt. Col. Galeai was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, 3rd Marine Division, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii; died June 26, 2008 while supporting combat operations in Karmah, Iraq. Also killed were Capt. Philip J. Dykeman and Cpl. Marcus W. Preudhomme.

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.

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.

Marine Lt. Col. Max A. Galeai was killed on 6/26/08.

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