Great Falls facility name changed to honor Medal of Honor recipients

by Jenn Rowell

The Armed Forces Reserve Center in Great Falls has a new name honoring two Medal of Honor recipients who lived here.

The building was officially renamed in May when President Barack Obama signed legislation changing the name to the Capt. John E. Moran and Capt. William Galt Armed Forces Reserve Center.

On Friday, Montana congressmen, Gov. Steve Bullock, military officials and members of the Galt family gathered in front of the building to honor the men and unveil the new name that had been installed on the front of the building. Officials said no surviving relatives of Moran could be located.

Bullock said Montanans have a long history of stepping up to serve, but that if Galt and Moran were with them during the ceremony, “these men would probably humbly tell us they were just doing their job.”

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.

Bullock said that Moran and Galt’s legacy, and that of other veterans, is to provide the footsteps to follow in continuing to care for veterans when they return home and remember those who have fallen.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., sponsored legislation, along with Republicans Sen. Steve Daines and Rep. Ryan Zinke, to rename the building since naming federal buildings requires congressional action.

Both houses of Congress passed legislation for the name change earlier this spring.

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.

Tester said Galt and Moran are members of a brotherhood from northcentral Montana who served in America’s time of need.

Moran and Galt, “did not seek out the glory,” he said. “These two men had a deep desire to serve.”

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.

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. 

Maj. Gen. Matt Quinn, adjutant general of the Montana National Guard, said that both men volunteered to serve and performed exceptionally when it was required of them.

Renaming the building shows an “enduring commitment to those who have fallen in combat,” Quinn said. 

“It’s a reminder that America will not forget,” he said.

Brig. Gen. Greg Mosser, commander of the 364th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, said the two men served in different regions, in different eras for different reasons, but what they have in common is that “they both answered the call” and went above and beyond answering the call. 

“It’s the kind of selfless service the Army has always valued,” Mosser said. 

Bill Galt, nephew of the Medal of Honor recipient, said that when they realized the building named for Galt had been closed, he brought it to Quinn’s attention and thanked the general for getting the ball rolling in renaming the new building.

“I think it really shows what our country is about,” Bill Galt said. “That freedom comes with a price.”