PENDLETON - The two bumper stickers on Ernie Gallaher's gleaming, red Dodge pickup are telling clues about what he considered his most important accomplishment during his life.

"Not so lean, not so mean, but still a Marine," one reads.

"Semper Fi," reads the other.

Gallaher, former Pendleton Police Chief and Iwo Jima survivor, died Saturday at St. Anthony Hospital after struggling with bronchitis since June and the effects of an earlier stroke.

It was an action-packed 83 years.

As a 19-year-old, the Washington native slogged ashore to fight in the Battle of Iwo Jima. By the end of the five-day engagement, Marines had wrested the South Pacific island from 22,000 Japanese troops at a cost of 2,400 American lives.

Gallaher stood at the base of Mount Surabachi and watched five Marines and a Navy corpsman raise the American flag. One of his proudest possessions was a faded, black hat with the words "Iwo Jima Survivor" above the brim.

"He was proud of what he's done and where he's been," said Tom Tangney, commander of the local VFW post. "He was all Marine."

Gallaher's picture could well illustrate the Webster's Dictionary for "patriotic" say friends and family.

"He was one of the most patriotic men I've ever known," Tangney said. "He always had the flag flying at his home."

David Gallaher, one of Gallaher's four children, said his father was an interesting mix of personality traits and experiences. On one hand, he was a tough Marine and law enforcement officer. On the other, he had a soft, artistic side he demonstrated by singing in a clear tenor voice at weddings and funerals. His wife Jean, who died in 1993 of cancer, frequently accompanied her husband during solos at Calvary Baptist Church.

Gallaher also sang in the Pendleton Men's Chorus and participated in the annual Kiwanis Kapers talent show.

Gallaher's second wife, Ruth, said she isn't yet able to talk about her husband without losing the battle with tears.

Some of those tears came Saturday during a family ceremony in the couple's driveway. As they lowered Gallaher's two flags - the U.S. stars and stripes and the Marine flag - family members shared remembrances of the man they loved.

Gallaher served as Pendleton Police Chief for 29 years of 33 he spent at the department. David Gallaher said his father, the grandson of a circuit-riding preacher, combined his deep faith with police work.

"He viewed police work in an interesting way," said David, an attorney and former Umatilla County District Attorney. "He had a strong religious conviction that he'd been 'called' to police work."

Gallaher shared his desire to serve the public through law enforcement with his three sons, David, Mike and Tim.

At one point, the boys and their father worked in some law enforcement capacity - Mike with the Umatilla County Sheriff's Office (and later as Milton-Freewater Police Chief), David as DA, Tim as an Oregon State Police officer and Gallaher as Pendleton's chief.

It made for some interesting debates, David mused.

"We were all on the side of law and order, but sometimes we had different approaches," he said.

David said his father was a strict disciplinarian for him, his brothers and sister Susan Jean, though he mellowed as the years passed.

"He got softer as time went on until he almost had a warm and fuzzy streak," he said.

He loved hunting elk, deer and a variety of upland birds with his sons and played third base on the police fast-pitch softball team. As a young Walla Walla police officer on the department baseball team, Gallaher held the local records at Borleske Stadium for most home runs hit in a single night - four.

In those days, players who hit balls over advertising signs got prizes from the advertiser.

"That night, he won three cases of Coca Cola and a suit," David said.

Gallaher was missed at Monday evening's VFW meeting.

"They didn't make 'em any better," said John Cook, a friend of Gallaher's. "Ernie was a fantastic man."

Twenty years ago, Cook worked as a city firefighter during Gallaher's run as Pendleton's police chief. The chief had many sides, Cook said.

"He was serious when he needed to be serious, but he was also a lot of fun," Cook said. "He had a real laid-back sense of humor."

Cook also described Gallaher as a faithful member of Let 'er Buck Post No. 922, the Pendleton Veterans of Foreign Wars post. The post honored Gallaher in February by presenting him with a crisp, new Iwo Jima Survivor hat to replace the one that had lost its shape from many years of washings.

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