RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - A woman known to almost every military veteran in Central Virginia has died. Phyllis Galanti said she was just an average housewife when she was thrust into the issue of prisoners of war during the Vietnam War after her own husband, Paul, was captured and held for nearly seven years.
Phyllis and Paul Galanti left a lasting legacy here in Richmond at the Virginia War Memorial. Both were often seen at the shrine, dedicated to those who served the nation, in Richmond overlooking the James River.
The Virginia War Memorial's education center was named after the couple in 2007.
U.S. Senator Mark Warner released a statement on the passing of Phyllis Galanti.
It said in part:
"I was so sorry to hear of the passing of Phyllis Galanti of Richmond who was both a dedicated advocate for our POWs and an American hero herself. Phyllis began her efforts to fight for POW rights when her husband, Lieutenant Commander Paul Galanti, was held captive during the Vietnam War, which turned into a national campaign to bring home nearly 600 POWs and MIAs during the Vietnam War. Phyllis and her husband Paul have been great friends and their optimism, perseverance, and patriotism make me proud as an American and a Virginian."
Phyllis Galanti became known to Richmonders and the world during the 2,432 days her husband Navy Lieutenant Commander Paul Galanti was a prisoner of war in Vietnam. During that time, she became the chairwoman of the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia.
Phyllis Galanti was known as 'Fearless Phyllis' for her efforts to get her husband home after his plane was shot down over North Vietnam, and he was captured in June 1966.
She spent years leading letter writing campaigns and traveling around the world to get her husband and other POW's released and returned to their families.
Phyllis got her wish in February 1973 when Paul was released and came home.
Phyllis Galanti was 73.