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Galatti, Stephen

Galatti, Stephen Courtesy of AFS Archives, New York.
  • When: WWI, WWII, Postwar, The Fifties, The Sixties
  • Where: France, USA
  • Category of People: WWI Driver, WWII Driver
  • Last Name: Galatti
  • Given Name(s): Stephen
  • Born: August 6, 1888
  • Died: Juli 13, 1964
  • Length of Service (months): 26
  • Service Year(s): 1915-16-17
  • Home (at time of Enlistment in WWI): New York City
  • Subsequent Service: Major U.S.A.A.S.
  • Unit (WWII): NY HQ
  • Home (at time of Enlistment in WWII): New York
  • Education: St. Mark's; Harvard '10
  • 1st Involvment with AFS: Date of Entry: September 1915

WWI driver (Section Three), Assistant to A. Piatt Andrew (HQ Paris), Director General American Field Service (1936-1964).

Stephen Galatti was born in Monmouth Beach, New Jersey, on August 8, 1888, son of Greek immigrants, Paul Stephen and Angelique (Kessisoglu) Galatti. He attended St. Mark's School in Southboro, MA, and graduated from Harvard College in 1910 (Class of 1910). He joined the East India merchant house of Ralli Brothers in 1911 working in New York and London and later spent a year in New Delhi, India. He resigned in 1914 and did volunteer work at the American Embassy in London.

He joined the American Ambulance Field Service (later to become the American Field Service, or "AFS") in France in July of 1915 and served as an ambulance driver with Section Three on the Alsace front. In January of 1916 he was appointed Assistant Inspector General of the AFS and transferred to Paris. He oversaw the daily operations at the AFS headquarters for next two years. When the United States Army took over the operation of the American Field Service in 1917 Galatti was commissioned Captain in the U.S. Army Ambulance Service and subsequently became a Major.

After World War I Galatti joined John Munroe & Co. banking firm and worked in its New York and Paris office until 1930. From then until 1943 he was a stockbroker with Jackson & Curtis in New York. He served as a stockbroker for Paine, Weber, Jackson & Curtis (1943-1954). In 1925 Galatti married Grace S. Montgomery with whom he had one son, Stephen, Jr. Mrs. Galatti died in 1934. Galatti helped create the American Field Service Fellowships for French Universities, and he served as Director and later President of the AFS French Fellowships.

Galatti became AFS Director General in 1936. Upon the outbreak of War World II in 1939, Galatti headed the reactivation of the American Field Service as a volunteer ambulance corps. He administered the overseas operations from AFS New York office, engaged in the raising funds by private subscription, the enlistment and training of volunteer American ambulance drivers, and the making of arrangements to supply ambulances and drivers to the Allied armies. Under his leadership AFS ambulance drivers served in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, India, and Burma, and carried over 700,000 casualties.

In 1946, Galatti and AFS Drivers from World Wars I and II decided that AFS could play a very important role in international relations by establishing a scholarship program which would bring European teenagers to the United States for a year of study. The first group of students came from Czechoslovakia, Estonia, France, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and Syria to the United States in 1947. One of the hallmarks of Galatti's dedication for world peace was the hosting of 111 German teenagers in 1950-51, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. The German program was a success and it created the impetus which gained the interest in AFS throughout the United States and brought other countries into the program. At the time of Galatti's death on July 13, 1964, the AFS programs were established in 60 countries.

During his lifetime Galatti was decorated by many governments. His awards included The Croix de Guerre (1915), The Legion of Honor (1947), Commander in the Order of the British Empire, The U.S. Medal of Freedom (1946), Verdienstkreuz, erster Klasse, Bundesrepublik Deutschland (1959), Officer in the Orde van Oranje-Nassau (1960), an honorary MA from Yale (1956), an honorary LL. D. from the University of Buffalo, and an honorary LL.D from Harvard (1964).