Staff Sgt. Justin T. Gallegos has received numerous honors for his service in the Army. His latest is the most notable.

Family and friends filled the Frontier Theater on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson to watch as Gallegos’ son, MacAiden, received the Distinguished Service Cross,  the nation’s second-highest award for valor, on behalf of his father.

“I’m glad he’s been honored. I’m glad he got what he deserved,” 14-year-old MacAiden said.

MacAiden Gallegos accepts the Distinguished Service Cross on behalf of his father, Justin Gallegos.


Justin Gallegos died during the Battle of Kamdesh in 2009 in Afghanistan. He saved the life of a fellow soldier in Troop B, of the 4th Brigade Combat Unit, drawing machine-gun fire to allow other troops to get to safety, before he gave his life.

 “Anything like this is bittersweet, because it should never have to happen at all, but it does,” said Gallegos’ widow, Amanda Marr. "It’s good to know there are people who were in Justin’s unit, and Justin.”

The ceremony took place in Alaska because MacAiden lives in Sutton with his mother and step-father. Justin Gallegos never lived in Alaska, but grew up in Tucson, Arizona. Marr credits the late Senator John McCain for its passage.

“Right before his death, he sponsored this," she said. "This is huge deal. I wish I could have thanked him in person.”

“He was a great father, I’m just glad he was my father,” MacAiden said.

There’s another way to describe his father: hero.

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