(Non-alumnus, appointed July 2011)
Paul Galanti graduated from Valley Forge Military Academy in 1957 and the U.S. Naval Academy in 1962 where he was President of his class. Completing Navy jet flight training in November 1963, he served as a flight instructor in Pensacola before joining Navy Light Jet Attack Squadron 216 (VA-216) based aboard the carrier, USS Hancock, which departed for Southeast Asia in November 1965. Galanti flew 97 combat missions in his A-4 Skyhawk before being shot down and captured on June 17, 1966. He remained a prisoner of war of the North Vietnamese for nearly seven years and was released on February 12, 1973.
He received the Master of Commerce degree (MBA) from the University of Richmond in May 1976 after two years of night school. He then became Commanding Officer of the Richmond Recruiting District. In July 1979 he moved to Annapolis as a Battalion Officer in the Office of the Commandant at the Naval Academy. Additionally, he was faculty advisor to the Brigade of Midshipmen Drum & Bugle Corps, the Lucky Bag (Academy yearbook) and the Midshipmen Honor Committee.
After being medically retired from the Navy, he became, in 1983, the first non-pharmacist Executive Director of the Virginia Pharmaceutical Association in its 100 year history. Joining the Medical Society of Virginia staff in September 1991 he became the Executive Vice President of the Society on January 1, 1993. In 2000 and 2008, he was the Virginia Campaign Director for Senator John McCain’s Presidential bid.
He was inducted into the Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame in November 2005. A replica of his A-4C from VA-216 is on display at the Virginia Aviation Museum in Richmond.
In April 2010 Galanti was appointed by Governor Bob McDonnell as the Commissioner of Veterans Services for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Governor McDonnell appointed him to the Board of Visitors of the Virginia Military Institute in 2011.
Galanti’s personal decorations include the Silver Star, combat awards of two Legions of Merit and the Bronze Star, nine combat Air Medals and two Purple Hearts.
Additional Information: Galanti appeared on the covers of Life (October 20, 1967) and Newsweek (February 26, 1973) and in the August 19, 1999 issue of Time. Selling Power highlighted his success story in a six page motivation section, Never Give Up, Never Give In, in its May/June 1996 issue. That national sales journal chose him as one of the twelve outstanding motivators in the United States in September 1996. The new 18,000 sq. ft. education center at the Virginia War Memorial is named for Paul and Phyllis Galanti.
He has appeared in several documentary films including the Discovery Channel’s Emmy Award-winning “Vietnam POWs, Stories of Survival” and Public Television’s “Return With Honor.” He is Past President of the Virginia Aviation Foundation, Nam-POWs, the national Vietnam POW Fraternity and an elder at First Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Virginia. Additionally, he serves on the Secretary of Veterans Affairs’ Advisory Committee on Former POWs.
He is married to the former Phyllis Eason. They have two grown sons.