Teaching Students About Eddie Gallagher: A Controversial Figure in Recent Military History


When teaching students about recent military history, it’s essential to discuss controversial figures and their role in shaping the public perception of the armed forces. Eddie Gallagher, a retired Navy SEAL, has become a notable subject in this regard following an intense court-martial trial that sparked debate on various issues such as military ethics and presidential involvement in judiciary decisions. This article aims to guide educators on how to address the complex topic of Eddie Gallagher in a balanced and educational manner.

Background on Eddie Gallagher:

Eddie Gallagher is a decorated US Navy SEAL who has served 20 years with numerous deployments to war zones including Iraq and Afghanistan. He has been awarded several commendations for his service and bravery. However, it was during his eighth deployment in 2017 that a series of accusations related to alleged war crimes led to one of the most high-profile military trials in recent years.

The Allegations:

The accusations against Gallagher included multiple charges ranging from stabbing a captured and wounded ISIS fighter to death while serving as a medic, shooting unarmed civilians, and posing for pictures with the corpse of the dead fighter. The court-martial proceedings were highly publicized and generated both support and criticism for Gallagher.

Court-Martial Trial Outcome:

In July 2019, the court found Eddie Gallagher not guilty on all charges except for one: posing for a photo with a dead ISIS fighter’s corpse. He was sentenced to four months confinement which he already served during pretrial confinement and was allowed to retire from the Navy with an honorable discharge.

Teaching Methods:

1. Presenting facts: Start by providing your students with accurate information about Eddie Gallagher’s military career, his accomplishments, and the allegations made against him. This will give them a foundation upon which to base their opinions.

2. Exploring military ethics: Engage your students in discussions concerning military ethics, the role of soldiers in maintaining professionalism and discipline in the field, and the moral dilemmas that servicemembers might face during combat.

3. Encourage critical thinking: It is crucial to promote critical thinking skills among your students. As they learn about Eddie Gallagher, encourage them to consider different perspectives, investigate the facts, and draw conclusions based on objective analysis.

4. Discussing media portrayal: Dive into discussions of how the media can influence public opinion about controversial figures in the military and how this shapes the overall perception of armed forces.

5. Examining presidential involvement: The trial has drawn attention due to President Trump’s intervention in Gallagher’s case. This presents an excellent opportunity to discuss the relationship between the executive branch and military judiciary processes.


Teaching students about Eddie Gallagher can be challenging due to its controversial nature; however, addressing it from diverse angles will enrich their understanding of recent military history and provide valuable lessons on ethics and critical thinking. By presenting facts, facilitating open discussions, and encouraging critical evaluation, educators can guide their students towards a comprehensive understanding of this complex topic.

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