Father of the US Navy Steel Band
From the Official History of the United States Navy Steel Band, by Navy Steel Band Historians: MU2 Steven C. Gray, Tenth Naval District, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1973 and MU3 James B. Fox, Eighth Naval District, New Orleans, LA, 1976
It's impossible to trace the history of The US Navy Steel Band without mentioning the band's founder and the man known as, "Father of the Navy Steel Band". Ambitious, dedicated, daring, versatile and innovative are just some of the flattering assortment of adjectives which are used to characterize Rear Admiral Dan Gallery, USN ret. (1901-1977), as a midshipman, athlete, pilot, captain, admiral, citizen, hero and author.
In 1917, at the age of sixteen, Daniel V. Gallery entered the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, launching a spectacular naval career that spanned 43 years of active service. At Annapolis he participated in baseball and excelled in wrestling. In, 1920, he graduated a year early and was chosen for the 1920 U.S. Olympic wrestling team, and although he won no medals, he was destined to a life of unsurpassed accomplishments bringing credit and pride to himself, the Navy and the USA.
Gallery became an early aviator and one of the pioneer jet pilots in the nation. Dauntless, he attempted aerobatics beyond the limits of early machines and on one occasion he actually fell from his aircraft while being daring. This tenacious strain in his temperament made him an invincible captain who eventually commanded the Navy Task Group 22.3, an antisubmarine warfare group operating from the aircraft carrier USS Guadalcanal. On June 4, 1944, under Gallery's command, his warfare group captured the German submarine U-505 off the coast of Africa. This remarkable feat allowed the U.S. to capture sensitive top secret code machines, code books and maps which played an important role in the allied victory, and was the only submarine ever captured and boarded at sea, as well as the only warship the U.S. Navy had seized since 1815.
The history of the U-505 capture is online at: http://uboat.net/allies/ships/uss_guadalcanal-5.htm
Captain Gallery first wrote about the U-505 incident in a story titled, "We Captured a German Submarine," which appeared in the August 1945 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Gallery preserved the exciting details of the seizure in such books as his, Twenty Million Tons Under the Sea (1956), Eight Bells and All's Well (autobiography, 1965), U-Five Hundred and Five (1971), and Army Boarders (1971). A prolific writer, other books by Gallery on naval subjects include, Clear The Decks (1951), Now Hear This (1965), Stand By-y-y- To Start Engines (1966), The Brink (1968), Cap'n Fatso (1969), and The Pueblo Incident (1970).
The Admiral's many books and victories at sea have made him immortal in the annals of naval history, and U-505 is on permanent exhibit in Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry as a testament to his enduring legacy.
In addition to his fame as an author and a military hero, Dan Gallery was a man of many accomplishments, distinguishing him as a man who understood public relations and diplomacy. While serving his final active tour as Commandant of the Tenth Naval District in San Juan, Puerto Rico, between December 1956 and July 1960, Admiral Dan, in a remarkable act of public service reached out to the people of Puerto Rico. An avid fan of baseball and himself a player when he attended Annapolis, he established the first Little League baseball on the island.
"There were no Little Leagues in Puerto Rico when I got there. But it seemed and ideal place to start some, because the Puerto Ricans are rabid 'beisbol fanaticos', you can play all year round there, and the population explosion supplies plenty of little ballplayers.
"With the help of Donna Felicia, then lady mayor of San Juan, the Rotary and Lions clubs, and many generous citizens, we organized twenty Little Leagues. By the time I left we had eighty teams with 1,200 kids in uniform playing in official leagues.
"Most of our leagues were in the slum areas and in housing projects, which are the next step above the slums. We concentrated on them because obviously this was where we could do the most good."
The relationship between the Navy, spearheaded by Gallery, and the civilian populace of Puerto Rico was one of goodwill and cooperation. The friendship which Donna Felicia and the Admiral shared proved to be advantageous to the Navy, for she made San Juan a hospitable liberty port for visiting sailors, giving parties for them and conditioning the police force to steer the sailors away from possible trouble.
It was another achievement in the Gallery tradition, however, that immortalized his name, slightly subordinating even his earlier military exploits because of the novelty and world acclaim. In February 1957, the Admiral conceived and established the United States Navy Steel Band, the first all-American steel band and the only military steel band. Controversial and unorthodox, Admiral Gallery would not be content with the conventional military brass band assigned to admirals so long as he could substitute something unique and novel in it's place and be the first to have that novelty. That opportunity came in February 1957, when for the first time he heard the famous steel bands of Trinidad during the annual Carnival. "The music just got inside me and shook me up."
Gallery immediately ordered sixteen steel drums to be built for which he paid $120. He returned to his headquarters in San Juan with news of his purchase and to the surprise of Chief Musician Charles A. Roeper, leader of the Admiral's conventional band, he ordered the band's eighteen musicians to lay aside their instruments and begin playing the steel drums exclusively. It was indeed strange news, however when given direct orders by a Rear Admiral it is not the place of a Navy Chief to question them.
Within two months, in April 1957, Chief Roeper and his band members traveled to Trinidad to take delivery of the new steel drums. They also received steel drum lessons from Ellie Mannette (legendary leader of the Invaders Steelband, noted today as the inventor of the modern steel drum, and known the world over as "the Father of Steel"). After one week of intensive training, these Navy musicians acquired adequate proficiency on their new instruments and transported them back to San Juan, (unofficially) calling themselves, "Admiral Dan's Pandemoniacs", a name derived from the slang term "pan" used to describe a steel drum. Unlike the musicians in Trinidad at that time, these sailors were professional trained musicians, capable of reading music, an ability that facilitated their learning of these new instruments and to rapidly build a diverse repertoire.
The original sixteen drums covered five voices: There were four ping-pongs or soprano lead drums with a range of an octave and a half (in contrast to modern "pongs" with two and a half and three octave ranges). There were three "second" pans (the alto voice), which were single drums, unlike the pair that makes up the modern "double-seconds". There were two "guitar" pans (a pair played by one man), which provided rhythmic accompaniment. The were two "tune booms" with nine notes each, skirts three quarters of the original length of the 55-gallon oil drum and played by one man. There was a single set of basses, consisting of four full-length barrels with five notes each (in contrast to the five-barrel basses introduced in September 1964). There was also a "bonga-bonga" drum, which had only two notes. Altogether the drums covered three and a half octaves, much less than modern steel bands. Besides the melodic drums there were many rhythm instruments, including "chao-chacs" (maracas), claves, guirro and a set of automobile brake drums (played with engine push rods).
The band quickly began to build a diverse repertoire, including traditional calypsos like "Marianne" and "Brown Skin Girl" (Gallery's favorite), as well as, meringues, cha-chas, sambas, rhumbas and also classical works including Schubert's "Serenade", "Poet and Peasant Overture", and Gounod's "Ave Maria". The band also learned popular songs such as Elvis Presley's "Love Me Tender". The tradition of diversity stayed with the band throughout its entire history and became a major reason for their widespread fame and worldwide recognition.
The Papers of Rear Admiral Daniel V. Gallery are in The Special Collections and Archives Division of the Nimitz Library at the United States Naval Academy, available for use by midshipmen, faculty and staff of the United States Naval Academy, and by other researchers. Gallery's papers are non-circulating and are confined to the Annapolis Room.
USS GALLERY (FFG 26) was named for RADM Daniel V. Gallery and his brothers, RADM Philip D. Gallery, and RADM William O. Gallery.
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Nov 12 2000 03:35:14:000PM