Family remembers decorated Victoria Marine

Jessica Priest By Jessica Priest

Jan. 6, 2014 at 7:02 p.m.
Updated Jan. 5, 2014 at 7:06 p.m.

Jacob Galvan's heart dropped when he didn't see his father's face among a crowd of onlookers at his Navy boot camp graduation nearly a year ago.

Then, the man he long admired tapped on his shoulder.

"I just lost it and started crying. It was so good to see him," Galvan said of his father, Joe Galvan Jr., a retired Marine who volunteered for five continuous tours in countries such as Somalia, Pakistan, Iraq and Iran.

"One time, he told me that he looked forward to seeing me in my cracker jacks, a derogatory name for Navy dress whites," Galvan said Monday, chuckling. "I told him I still signed his paychecks. ... He liked to joke (about the rivalry between the military branches), but I knew he was proud of me."

Galvan's father died unexpectedly Jan. 2 in Victoria of sepsis he likely developed from pneumonia. He was 42.

"He had to have been sick (with pneumonia) for about a week, but that's the way he was," his son said. "He never told anyone he was hurting. He didn't want to trouble anybody."

Galvan was a gunnery sergeant on an E7 pay grade, which one obtains through recommendations, acing tests and developing leadership and characteristic skills, said his son, who is a culinary specialist third class on the USS Mobile Bay CG(53).

He supervised many people and dealt with refueling anything from trucks to helicopters, said the younger Galvan, 19, of San Diego, Calif.

He got to know his father better his sophomore year of high school.

Then, because he was earning bad grades and skipping class, Galvan's mother, Stephanie Johnson, 41, insisted he move from Wheatland, Calif., to Beaufort, S.C.

His father was strict but never lost his temper, which allowed him to eventually surpass his classmates on his studies.

"He always said, 'Jacob, do the right thing for the right reasons even when nobody is looking,'" his son said. "There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about that at least twice."

Although his father suffered from post traumatic stress disorder, serving his country was a priority.

"He told me, 'Jacob, you're too young for the stories I have because they keep me up at night,'" his son said. "He was just doing his job protecting the country he loves and the family he loves."

Galvan retired in 2012 after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps for 21 years.

He moved back to Victoria to live with his brother, Allen Wayne Galvan, 35, the day after this past Thanksgiving.

"He got there about 20 minutes before I did. I was so anxious going every which way," said his brother, who builds oil-field sites. "I always kind of ran up to him when I was a little kid. I'm a grown man now, and when I pulled up, I wanted to get out of my pickup like that little kid."

The two had gone six years without seeing each other before, so they planned to make up for lost time by drinking beer, fishing and playing football.

Galvan was also going to teach his niece and nephew how to hunt birds and deer in the Kenedy area, but they were trapped inside because of recent bad weather.

"He's really good at guiding and keeping you focused," said his brother. "I got sick, and he got sick. His immune system took it different than mine."

In his spare time, Galvan roofed houses and trained horses.

He and his 85-pound German shepherd, June, named after the singer June Carter, were inseparable. He was a big Johnny Cash fan, too, his brother said.

Although their father was an Army medic during World War II, enlisting in the U.S. Marines Corps. was kind of a spur of the moment decision, his brother said.

"He never changed. ... My father smoked cigars, so he began carrying one with him. He always said, 'Just in case. You have to have a plan B for a plan B,'" Allen Galvan said. "He (my brother) just smiled and made you feel good."

Joe Galvan Jr. is survived by his wife, Robin Whitten Galvan, of Beaufort, S.C., and stepfather, Jesus Galindo. He has five sisters, four brothers and step-grandchildren.



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