Nearly a year after former Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher was found not guilty of murder in his war crimes court-martial, which was marred by prosecutorial misconduct and spying, Gallagher and his wife have launched the nonprofit Pipe Hitters Foundation. The nonprofit will assist military service members, first responders, and their families with legal support.
Gallagher and his wife, Andrea, first announced their intention to open such a non-profit back in February.
Back on September 11, 2018, Gallagher was arrested and charged with war crimes, including the murder of an ISIS captive. He was confined for nearly eight months before his trial. Gallagher was eventually found not guilty of the most serious charges, and he was freed.
After this experience, the Gallagher family decided they wanted to help other service members and first responders who are facing legal hurdles and need help.
The Pipe Hitter Foundation will provide financial support, including legal defense funds, advocacy for its clients through the public policymakers, and public affairs campaigns, the foundation said in a released statement.
“During our own personal ordeal, we pledged to those supporting us that if we overcame the injustices that were inflicted on Eddie and our family, we’d fight to help others,” Andrea Gallagher said.
“I was fortunate to have Andrea, my brother Sean and countless individuals dedicated to finding the best resources to help me during my personal case, but not everyone has that type of support,” Eddie Gallagher said in the foundation’s press release.
Gallagher came “dangerously close to being crushed by a military justice system corrupted by political correctness, careerism, and incompetence,” the foundation’s website states.
Gallagher was asked in an interview with local San Diego television news KUSI about the choice of name for his foundation. A Pipe Hitter, Eddie Gallagher replied, stems from a term frequently used by the military of the same name to describe “someone you want with you during tough situations, someone who has your back and is willing to sacrifice and work hard to get the job done.”
The term is thought to date back to the late 1800s but was given new life by the 1994 Quentin Tarrantino classic film “Pulp Fiction.” One of the main characters, a gangster named Marsellus Wallace used the term when preparing to torture a man.
Marsellus Wallace: “I’m gonna call a couple of hard-pipe hittin’ n****s to go to work on the homes here with a pair of pliers and a blow-torch. You hear me talkin’, hillbilly boy?! I ain’t through with you by a damn sight! I’ma get medieval on your ass!”
That film was thought to be the catalyst for SEALs and Special Forces to start using the term. It has come to mean someone who can always be counted on in combat.
Gallagher has also filed a claim against the Navy and David Phillips a journalist for the New York Times. Gallagher said he wants to hold everyone accountable. He claims that Navy Secretary Braithwaite leaked documents to Phillips that resulted in Phillips’s publishing inaccurate articles about him.
Gallagher’s lawyer Tim Parlatore spoke about the creation of the non-profit back in February. Although he is not involved in the foundation, due to conflict of interest laws, he supports it.
“What the Gallagher family is trying to do here fills a very necessary need, and I think anybody that would be opposed to military members having access to competent, conflict-free legal counsel should reexamine their understanding of the constitution,” Parlatore said.
Sean Gallagher, Eddie’s brother, spoke with the Military Times back in February as well and cited a need for the foundation.
“Eddie is not a war criminal — he never was. His name was slandered by prosecutors and pundits alike prior to his trial where he proved his innocence and was acquitted on all serious charges by a jury of his peers,” Sean said. “What happened to us is happening to many others wearing the uniform – and they need and deserve help.”
“Our family and legal team exposed the massive cancer that is the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). We revealed corruption, civil rights violations, unlawful command influence, the list goes on and on,” he added. “That is why the Pipe Hitter Foundation was created and we will continue to fight for those who fight for us!”
Throughout the court-martial, the defense, led by Parlatore, pointed to failures of the UCMJ and the prosecution against Gallagher: They claimed that the prosecution portrayed him as guilty prior to the trial. And they had a case for that. Navy judge Capt. Aaron Rugh “sanctioned the prosecution” for violation of Gallagher’s constitutional rights. The lead prosecutor, Cmdr. Christopher Czaplak, was dismissed from the case after he was accused of attaching tracking software to emails sent to attorneys and a Navy Times reporter in an effort to find the source of leaks to the media.
In the end, Gallagher was acquitted on nine of the 10 charges against him. He was found guilty of posing for a photograph with a corpse and was sentenced to time served. The Navy attempted to reduce him one rank, but President Trump stepped in; Gallagher was reinstated at his former rank and quickly retired from the service. Trump also fired Navy Secretary Richard Spencer over his handling of the case.