Gen. John R. Galvin, who began his improbable military career as an aspiring cartoonist and went on to be the last Cold War supreme allied commander in Europe, died on Friday at his home in Jonesboro, Ga., near Atlanta. He was 86.
The cause was complications of Parkinson’s disease, his daughter Kathleen M. Galvin said.
As a young man, in 1948, General Galvin was encouraged by a friend to join the National Guard to supplement his tuition and finish high school before being drafted. Taking that advice, and putting off his cartoon-drawing ambitions, he was assigned to be a medic. Soon he was stabbing grapefruits as practice for administering vaccinations.