CORNELIUS, OR, US
HN, 2ND MDIV FMF LNT
08/11/2011, MARJAH, AFGHANISTAN
Hope Gallinger-Long offered thoughts about the death of her husband, killed far from home in Afghanistan. She wants Corpsman Gallinger-Long remembered not as a statistic, but as a vital, loving human being devoted to his family and his nation.
Riley, a 2010 graduate of Forest Grove High School in Cornelius, Oregon was a son, grandson, brother, uncle and friend. Riley was a young man known as a kind, humorous, generous, humble and genuine person.
“He was the sweetest guy,” buddy Cody Brown said. Riley was praised as a hero who gave the ultimate sacrifice for his country. Some months after the death of Corpsman Gallinger-Long, his brother Zack reflected on how the family is getting on.
“We are all coping with his death and while it has changed all of us, we are all closer and stronger than ever before. …It was seeing all the people in the community from all walks of life coming together with such passion over a shared loss.”
A non-profit organization, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), church and participation in military inspired events also help the family deal with their grief. Memorials honoring Riley’s sacrifice allow Zack to show his children local places dedicated to Riley throughout the community. And along the way new stories about Corpsman Gallinger-Long surface with the recurring themes of his fun loving nature and willingness to help others. He was always smiling.
Zack knows that Riley wants to be remembered as a modest individual. “I wrote a letter to Riley while he was in boot camp in Great Lakes. I thanked him for his service and told him how proud of him I was. When I went to visit him a few months later, after he graduated, he commented on the letter. He politely declined to accept the thanks, saying that he didn’t deserve the praise, that he hadn’t really done anything and that the veterans that weren’t coming home were the ones we should be thanking. Today, I am glad I wrote that letter.”
Zack Gallinger-Long was appointed by Governor John Kitzhaber to the Task Force on Military Families for the State of Oregon. The task force reviews proposals for legislation relating to military families and conducts outreach to bridge the gap between military and civilian sectors. He will serve on the task force through 2016.