Great Falls Tribune: Bill to rename facility for Medal of Honor recipients passes Congress

The Armed Forces Readiness Center in Great Falls is getting a new name.

Legislation passed both houses of Congress to rename the facility as the Capt. John E. Moran and Capt. William Galt Armed Forces Reserve Center to honor the Montana men who received the Medal of Honor.

The bill is now awaiting President Barack Obama’s signature.

Moran served in the Army’s 37th Infantry during the Philippine-American War and was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1910 and died in Great Falls in 1930. Galt of Great Falls served in the Army’s 34th Infantry during World War II and was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1945 after he was killed in action in Italy.

The Senate bill was sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat, and Republican Sen. Steve Daines was a co-sponsor. Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke sponsored the House bill.

“Captains Galt and Moran are shining examples of Montana’s long history of service to this nation,” Tester said. “By honoring them in this way they will serve as inspirations to the thousands of men and women continuing our state’s legacy of service and sacrifice.”

Moran was born in Vermont on Aug. 23, 1856. He later moved to Montana, where he joined the Army. On Sept. 17, 1900, Moran and his soldiers came under siege and after beating back their attackers, Moran advanced with a group of troops, through waist-deep water and heavy fire, to stage a counterattack on the enemy, according to the Montana congressional offices.

After the war, he was elected county clerk and recorder of Cascade County.

“I’m proud that Captain Galt’s and Captain Moran’s legacy will be forever inscribed in our history for all Montanans to see,” Daines stated. “These two great men serve as a tremendous example of Montana’s legacy of service and they deserve our utmost thanks.”

Galt was born in Great Falls on Dec. 19, 1919. While serving in Italy, he commanded multiple attacks against German forces. It was during one of these attacks that Galt advanced under heavy fire, manning the machine gun in the turret of a tank destroyer, and killed 40 German soldiers and wounded dozens of others.

Galt was fully exposed in the turret and eventually succumbed to enemy fire and was killed in action that day, May 29, 1944. For his acts of “gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty,” according to the award citation, Galt was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 1945.

“Montana has a strong heritage of military service, with more veterans per capita than almost every other state in the nation. Captain Moran and Captain Galt are an inspiration to every Montanan, myself included,” Zinke said. “Memorializing these two heroes by renaming the Armed Forces Reserve Center will provide a daily reminder to us of the service and sacrifice of Captain John E. Moran and Captain William Wylie Galt.”

Galt previously had a Great Falls facility named for him as the Galt Hall Army Reserve Center, located on Gore Hill and named for Galt in 1958.

It was closed after the 2005 base realignment and closure actions.

In 2006, Congress passed legislation from Sen. Conrad Burns to dedicate a proposed replacement Army Reserve building to Galt, but the building was not constructed.

The current facility in Great Falls was built in 2002 on Malmstrom Air Force Base to house a National Guard unit. In 2010, the building was expanded to house the Army Reserve.

Since it’s a joint facility, it falls outside the 2006 naming legislation, which is why the building was, until now, still named the Great Falls center, according to the Montana National Guard.

Guard officials said the facility would now be named for an Army Reservist in Galt and a Guardsman in Moran.

“Honoring these extraordinary service members whose service went above and beyond the call of duty is the right thing to do, and we will be honored to have our facility named after Captains Moran and Galt,” said Major General Matthew Quinn, adjutant general of the Montana National Guard. “I am very appreciative of Sen. Tester and Sen. Daines’ recognition of these Montana heroes and their consistent and ongoing support of our women and men who have served and are currently serving.”