Walton Walker -- Forgotten Hero
"All my life, I've been a soldier and nothing else." -- Walton H. Walker
General Walton H. Walker-nicknamed "Johnny Walker" by his classmates at the U.S. Military Academy-was a great and noble soldier. He was a man of enormous personal and professional courage. Although his physical height was only five-feet, five-inches, he possessed a rare stature. Like most short people, Walker had to work twice as hard just to get half the recognition. And, like Thomas Edison, he believed that genius was one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. Others of his era may have been more articulate, more photogenic, and more charismatic, but none was a better combat commander.
Walker was a front-line, show-yourself type of general who perhaps looked more like a top sergeant than a commanding general. In his thirty-eight years of service to his country he never faltered in his personal integrity nor wavered in his devotion to duty.
Much has been written about MacArthur, Ridgway, Van Fleet, and others who served in Korea, but none of them was superior to Walker nor could any of them have done as well as he did under his frustrating and difficult circumstances. His personal strength, unflagging energy, and unfailing tenacity is what saved Korea during the first uncertain and bleak months of that highly unpopular war. Without Walker and his distinct brand of leadership the United States could easily have found themselves shoved off the Korean peninsula.
Walker, like his friend George Patton, was an anachronism. During his duty in Korea, Walker was an apolitical soldier when politics had replaced professionalism in the U.S. military community. He was a simple battlefield commander when flamboyant national figures were fighting for the center stage spotlight. He was a brilliant tactician at a time when the nation was being deceived by strategists with ambiguous and nebulous "single weapon" theories. Most unfortunate, he was a loyal subordinate when loyalty was the least concern of ambitious superiors and politicians.
Walton Harris Walker was born on 3 December, 1889 in the small town of Belton, in central Texas. Walker, as a small child, loved to listen to the stories about his two grandfathers-both Confederate officers in the Civil War; or as a Virginian might say, the "War of Northern Aggression." At the time of Walker's birth, the Civil War was still a tender and bloody scar in the memories of tens of thousands of American veterans, both Yankee and Confederate.
Texas itself was sparsely settled at the time and was relatively "new" to the United States, gaining statehood only four decades earlier after being the only state in the union that was once a republic on its own. "Remember the Alamo," was still fresh in the minds of Texans and the Colt .45 six-shooter was a major element of the law-and-order process in Texas. It was not uncommon to hear someone utter the phrase, "It wasn't God who made men equal, it was Colonel Colt."
Walker's mother was Lydia May Harris. She, too, was born in Belton. Her father was Captain A. J. Harris, Confederate States Army, formerly of Mississippi. Captain Harris was an outstanding civic leader in the town's legal and political circles. May Harris was educated in Belton's best schools before attending Athenaeum in Tennessee, one of the South's best finishing schools for young ladies.
May majored in art, music, and literature and upon graduation was "introduced" to Belton's society in the style befitting a young, lovely, and eligible daughter of distinguished parents. Colorful and vivid recollections of May's "coming out" were recounted by those who were lucky enough to be present at the annual debutante ball. It was generally agreed that she was the "belle of the ball" as she led the cotillion and schottische. She created quite a stir among the town's eligible beaux, all of whom, it seems, were rivals in pursuit of her fair hand.
After marrying Sam Walker, May became one of the leading matrons of the town, in spite of her youthfulness. She was always generous, contributing freely to church, civic, social, and patriotic organizations. She was a charter member of Belton's oldest club, the Woman's Wednesday Club. And she held membership in the United Daughters of the Confederacy, Daughters of the American Revolution, Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Texas Organization of Colonial Dames, and Daughters of the War of 1812. Being a capable writer, May once used young Walton as the inspiration for a poem titled The Boy and from that time on she referred to him as such.
During those rough and tumble days of America's west, stories are plentiful about youngsters who were, "born to the saddle." In young Walton's case, however, it's true. When he was old enough to sit a horse, his father started him riding and from then on Walton was unstoppable. In addition to his abilities as a horseman, he was quite passionate about his dogs and hunting. Those who knew him then remember that he was a very independent young man who enjoyed action and adventure. He spent most of his life pursuing just such a life. When school wasn't in session and he wasn't hunting, Walton most often could be found working his bird dogs, riding his cow pony, and galloping hell-for-leather across the Texas country-side. He became a crack shot-so much so that he was given permission to carry his father's Colt .45 six-shooter on his belt. According to his mother, he was part Tom Sawyer and part Dennis the Menace.
This is not to say, however, that Walton was a wild kid or that he lacked discipline. Very early in his life, his father and mother instilled in him the philosophy that there was a time and a place for everything. When Walton was in Sunday school, for example, he was the model member of the class. He was well instructed in his catechism and he displayed impeccable manners for such a young boy. As the years passed, he learned how to properly balance his responsibilities and chores with his hunting, riding, and pursuit of adventure.
Walker's father was Sam Sims Walker, a prosperous merchant who originally came from Huntsville, Texas. Sam Walker was the son of Virginia-born Major Benjamin Walton Walker, Confederate States Army. Sam's maternal grandfather, J. T. Sims, came to Texas in 1835 and served as a Captain in the Texas Confederate troops.
Sam received his college education at Austin College which at the time was located in Huntsville but later moved to Sherman, Texas. In 1881, Sam came to Belton as a representative of the Santa Fe railroad where he was given the responsibility for buying and shipping 'King Cotton.' In the three cotton growing seasons Sam was there, he shipped between fifty to sixty thousand bales per season. In 1883, Sam joined a partnership with Tom Fairweather and the two businessmen opened a mercantile firm at the corner of East Central Avenue and Penelope under the name of Fairweather and Walker. In 1884, they moved their business to the Walker-Saunders building on North Main street. Sam took complete control of the business after he and Tom dissolved their partnership in 1890, moving it to the north side of the courthouse square near East Central Avenue. He also changed the store's sign to read: "Sam S. Walker."
Sam fathered two children by his wife, May, but Walton was the only one to live to adulthood. Their first child, Sam Sims Jr., died when only nine months old.
Sam had acquired a number of properties during his career, enough so that he was able to retire from his mercantile business in 1921 to devote full time efforts to managing them. He was a well-known person in Belton and was seen daily riding his horse up Shine Street to the Walker holdings near Mary Hardin-Baylor University.
Being a civic-minded individual, Sam played an important role in the development of the town. He was generous with both his money and time when it came to progress. He and a friend, W. S. Hunter, secured a site for a downtown location of the Belton Carnegie Library. Both of the men were later instrumental in keeping the Wedemeyer school open during periods of financial difficulty. When the Belton White Horse Band was unable to find a suitable place to practice due to lack of funding, Sam made the upper story of his store available as a rehearsal hall. On the whole, however, Sam and May provided charity privately. Many people and organizations in Belton received help quietly, graciously, and anonymously from the Walker family. Sam was greatly admired and respected by everyone in the community.
He was a Mason, Odd Fellow, a Knight of Pythias, an honorary member of the Bell County Camp of Confederate Veterans, and he was a trustee of the North Belton Cemetery Association. He often helped the Red Cross and assisted in Liberty Loan drives during World War I.
Sam suffered a paralyzing stroke on Thursday, 28 November, 1929 and died the next morning at 2:13 a.m.
On 5 December, 1929, the "Belton Journal" printed a story about Sam in which a friend remembered him as: " . . . one of the best friends I ever had. At a time when a friend was needed, when I had nowhere to turn, it was to Sam Walker that I went. . . . He saw my condition, saw what I needed, and without a moment's hesitation gave the aid that I really needed. I consider that he was the best friend that I ever had. Though for many years our paths have diverged, and during the years we have not heard from each other, still the memory of those days will linger with me so long as I live, with a deep feeling of gratitude in my heart for the good friend that he proved to be."
May took over the management of the family business, estate, and rental properties. She built and managed the rent houses that Sam had planned, but never lived to complete. She also kept an eye on the Walker family's West Texas "oil properties" which-she always laughingly added-have no oil.
Classmates remembered visiting the Walker home and they invariably spoke of happy memories of gracious and "southern" hospitality offered by the family.
Young Walton quickly tired of the timid bedtime stories of Peter Rabbit and Uncle Remus told to him by his mother. Because of Walton's his vivid imagination and thirst for adventure, Sam took over the job. He told him "blood and thunder" tales depicting the pioneer history of Texas and the Southwest. His stories were about men like Davey Crockett and Sam Houston. Later, the boy heard stories told by his grandfathers about the tragedy-the lost cause-of the Confederacy at the hands of the damned Yankees. Walton was always more than obliging to let people know he was still a "Rebel" for the Confederate cause.
Altogether, it was reminiscent of the childhood stories told to "Georgie" Patton by his father and his father's friends, most of whom were veterans of the War of Northern Aggression. Friends such as Colonel John Mosby, of Mosby's Raiders fame. Like Patton, one of Walker's favorite storytellers was Rudyard Kipling.
As the years passed, Walton began to study the Civil War in earnest. He began to view men like Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and "J.E.B." Stuart as his heroes. What were once boyish convictions turned into a young man's creed and eventually into a grown man's vocation.
Walker's confederate heritage would prove to be just one of many parallels shared by his future boss, mentor, and personal hero, General George S. Patton, Jr. Like Patton-who professed at a very early age that his single desire in life was to be a professional soldier-Walker proclaimed at the tender age of eight that he had but a single ambition in life-to be a general in the army. Like Patton fighting Yankees at his home in California, Walker fought innumerable battles against Yankees with his "early campaigns fought on the banks of historic Nolan Creek, which runs across the backside of the Walker homestead lot." It was here that he "shot thousands of Yankees, broke his arm, and never lost a battle." When given the choice of taking over his father's business or his grandfather's law firm Walker soberly said, "I had rather be a merchant than a lawyer, but I had rather be dead then be either one." It was quite a strong and telling for a child.
When he was eight years old, he accompanied his parents on a vacation during which they went on a sight-seeing tour up the Hudson River on the Dayliner "Mary Powell." It was from that boat the young Walker got his first glimpse of the United States Military Academy at West Point. It was easily the most important moment in his life. While the Walker family was walking the grounds of West Point, Walton got the chance to see firsthand the Long Gray Line of Cadets on retreat parade. With a determination quite amazing for an eight year old child, Walton simply announced that, "This is the school for me. I intend to graduate from this school one day and to be a general, too." His prediction about the graduation came true fourteen years later when Walker's name was read off as number 73 in a class of 96 of the 1912 West Point graduating class. The traditionally colorful ceremony took place at the historic Trophy Point overlooking the majestic Valley of the Hudson. Walker's promise to himself to become a general would take quite a few years more.
Walker's parents had warned their son that no one gets into West Point without earning the privilege. They made certain he understood the ambitious goal he had chosen for himself and then helped him attain his objective.
Upon returning to Belton from the east coast, Walton began studying in earnest. Grammar school in Belton, and then the Wedemeyer Military Academy in Belton.
Walker, like Patton, spent a year at the Virginia Military Institute in preparation for his education at West Point. Following VMI, he attended an additional year of special preparation for the entrance examinations at Brandon's West Point Preparatory School at Highland Falls, New York. Finally, he received a principal's appointment from the Texas 11th Congressional District in 1908.
Cadet Walker, because of his intense preparation, was much more prepared for the rigors of life as a plebe than were most of the other first year students. His year as a "rat" at VMI helped him to handle the rigorous discipline required of every plebe. One of Walker's classmates remembered the first time he met Walker at West Point:
"The writer of these lines recalls very distinctly at the moment, after a lapse of more than forty-five years, the unusual circumstances of his first meeting with classmate Johnnie Walker. The scene took place in a cadet's room (2nd floor, right, 18th Division, overlooking area of North Barracks). Being a small-town lad from the south without any previous military training, I found myself very confused as I stumbled into my assigned room, staggering under the weight of the first issue of clothing and equipment that a new cadet draws at the cadet store to begin the first day's schedule in "Beast Barracks." By the time I had run the gauntlet at the double time, over a distance of several hundred yards, with upper classmen yapping at me all along the way, I was barely able to take the final step that put me over the doorsill of my room, when everything seemed to give way like a shell exploding over the floor-the water bucket and numerous toilet articles therein ricocheted in every direction; bedding and pillow knocked over a chair; and a clothes bag of clothing fortunately absorbed the shock of my sprawling fall to the floor. As I was scrambling to get to my feet, I felt a firm grip on my arm that gave me a lift as a gentle voice from the rear drawled: 'Lemme he'p you. Purty heavy load.'
"I looked around and saw a short, chunky, nice-looking young fellow (blond) in civilian clothes; he wore a wide-brimmed Stetson hat that he quickly tossed over to a table and he began gathering up the articles on the floor, promptly placing them in the prescribed places in a cadet's room. Presently he turned to me and grasped my hand firmly: "Mah name's Walker. I'm frum Texas. Where you frum?" When I panted out my name and home state, his cherub-like round face broke out in a happy smile and his deep blue eyes confirmed what he all but shouted: "Thank God!" He slapped me on the back and said: "Come on. Let's finish puttin' your things away. Just think, I mighta drawn a Damyankee instead of a Rebel as a beast barracks roommate. We'll take it in stride and not let this rat race git our goats..." That was the beginning of a warm and lasting friendship and symbolic of the generous nature of Johnnie Walker who was ever unfailing in giving a helping hand to the other fellow in need."
It was at West Point that Walker received his first nickname, "Johnny Walker" a popular brand of whiskey. The name had little connection with Walker's personal habits in that he never cared for liquor of any kind-or tobacco for that matter.
Like many "late bloomers" Walker's performance at West Point gave little indication of the success he would achieve in his future military career. For a young man determined to be a general, his attitude seemed to be at odds with the military discipline, academics, and especially the competitive system at "the Point." The Howitzer of 1912-the academy's yearbook-proclaimed that Walker's two favorite slogans were, "Agin' the government" and "Down with the TD." He was always trying to outwit the Tactical Department, the Tactical Officers in charge, and he didn't seem to care who knew it. As might be expected, Walker was often in trouble, so much so that his first year at the academy resulted in him obtaining no rank.
When Walker graduated, it was less than an auspicious occasion. His ranking of number 73 in a class of 96 might be considered by some to hardly be an outstanding resumé for a new second lieutenant. Walker, however, was unconcerned about his class standing. He felt that graduating from West Point in and of itself was ample validation of his qualifications. As a student of military history, he argued that class standing was hardly indicative of a man;s ability on the battlefield. Future success, he maintained, depended little on classroom performance. Another West Point graduate adhering to Walker's belief was George Patton. It took Patton five years to graduate.
A continual problem that plagued Walker was his size. Although he was well-known and well-liked by his classmates, he was the "runt" of the class. He was interested in sports and spent a lot of time in the gymnasium's boxing and wrestling rooms. In spite of his arduous attempts, he always seemed to be too small participate in collegiate level sports. West Point's athletic emphasis at that time was primarily focused on brawn and not skill. Walker, nevertheless, found ways to cope with his limitations. Nor did he waver in his support of West Point teams, attending every game and rooting at the top of his lungs. One of Walker's classmates recalled: "The thing for which we like him most is his loyalty to every sort of athletic team we have around here. He burns his face along with the baseball fans, he shivers himself into a sweat at football practice. No weather or physical discomfort can dampen his enthusiasm and we need that sort of man here." In addition to his schooling and sports activities, he participated heavily in extracurricular activities. He was always involved in horse shows, rifle and pistol competitions, and fencing.
Riding and hunting were easily Walker's favorite hobbies and it showed during his years at West Point. He consistently scored well during marksmanship training and easily earned sharpshooter status. He was an active member of the yearly horse show held at West Point which displayed fancy and functional horsemanship during "June Week." This, of course was during a time when horses and horsemanship were still an important part of the U.S. Army. Horses were used in jobs that would eventually be replaced by jeeps, tanks, and trucks when the new "modern" army geared up for World War II.
It was General Walker who, near the end of World War II, captured intact the Imperial Spanish Riding Academy, an organization heralding back to the days of King Charles V of Spain. When the horses were safely in the hands of U.S. forces, Walker invited General Patton to see a performance of the world famous academy. Patton, always ready with an uncensored opinion, remarked about how amazing it was that: " . . . in the midst of a world at war . . . teaching a group of horses to wiggle their butts and raise their feet in consonance with certain signals from the heels and reins . . . (was) wasted energy." Patton always enjoyed shocking people with his comments and in spite of his biting comments, Patton enjoyed the show as much as Walker did.
By the time of Walker's graduation from West Point in 1912, he had already formulated his fundamental combat philosophy. He felt that "the way to get out of enemy fire is to advance out of it." It was a philosophy similarly adopted by George Patton.
Following Walker's graduation leave, he and three of his classmates joined the 19th Infantry at Fort Sheridan, Illinois. Two of them, Ben Delamater and Davenport Johnson, were fellow Texans.
Walker, the new shavetail lieutenant, set forth on the normal routine of an officer's life in the peacetime army, climbing aboard the "assignment merry-go-round." Five months at Fort Sheridan, ten days at Fort Sill, fourteen months at Galveston, and so on.
His first assignment at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, was with the 19th Infantry. In 1914, he experienced his first "foreign service" as a member of the 1914 Vera Cruz Expedition commanded by General Funston. He returned to Fort Sill in 1915 and was immediately assigned to patrol duty at Del Rio in Texas.
In 1916, the Mexican bandito Pancho Villa attacked Columbus, New Mexico, murdering some innocent U.S. citizens. In response, General John J. Pershing took an Expeditionary Force into Mexico to find and punish Villa. Also in Pershing's force were two of Walker's future commanders; George S. Patton, Jr. (class of 1909) and Dwight D. Eisenhower (class of 1915). During the expedition, Walker shared a tent with Lieutenant Eisenhower. The only exciting incident of the tent-mates service in Mexico occurred while they were sleeping. During a heavy thunderstorm, lightning mistook their tent pole for a lightning rod and literally knocked them both out of the tent. Their mutual report said they suffered, "Minor shock and major fright."
On 1 July, 1916, Walker was promoted to first lieutenant. Along with his promotion, he received orders to report to Fort Sam Houston. In less than a year-15 May 1917-Walker was surprised to be promoted to Captain. Wearing his new captain's bars, he reported to Camp Stanley, Texas where he was given a special assignment at Fort Brown, Texas. From June until October, as the single officer of the organization, he organized the 2nd Battalion, 57th Infantry there.
From Fort Brown, Walker returned to Fort Sam Houston where he organized Company A of the 13th Machine Gun Battalion. As Company Commander, he accompanied the unit to France.
By the time Walker was given a combat role in World War I, he had almost six years of highly varied assignments and a great diversity of duty stations to his credit. Compared with the typical junior officer of his time, he was above average in experience and ability. He had continually demonstrated the necessary attributes of character and competent leadership skills requisite of a successful military leader in combat.
Walker's promotion to Major came through on 7 June, 1918 when he assumed command of the 13th Machine Gun Battalion. He immediately lead the unit into combat in the Arnould Sector.
Walker also fought in the St. Die Sector, in the battle of St. Mihiel, and in the Meuse-Argonne offensive, being cited twice for gallantry in action. He also received the newly authorized Silver Star with one Oak Leaf Cluster for its adornment. The Silver Star citation read, "For exceptional devotion to duty, energy, and efficiency in commanding the 13th Machine Gun Battalion . . . He at all times personally directed the operations of his battalion in the most able manner, often under trying circumstances and severe fire."
On 6 May, 1919, Walker received a battlefield promotion to the "war rank" of Lieutenant-Colonel which he held following the armistice and during his service with the Army of Occupation in Germany.
Walker returned to the United States in July, 1919, and in accordance with the Army's "slashback" program, was reverted to his pre-war rank of Captain while serving as an instructor at the Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia. On 1 July, 1920,. Walker was again promoted to major-this time a permanent rank. He retained the rank of major for fifteen years. During the "in between years" following World War I and before World War II, it was literally true that someone had to either die or resign before a promotion slot became available.
Always on the lookout for opportunities to broaden his military acumen and knowledge, Walker applied for appointment as a student officer for the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. When his post-graduate studies there were completed, he was ordered back to Fort Benning where he served in the capacity of Chief of the Machine Gun and Infantry Weapons Section. He held this assignment until 1922 when he changed from being a faculty member-teaching the basics-to being a student of the Advanced Course which he completed in June 1923. This was his final year at Fort Benning and by the time he was finished with the course, he himself admitted that he was pretty well sick of schools in general. He wrote to a West Point classmate, "I hope to hell I never hear of a school again-I'm fed up." As time passed, however, Walker would discover that there was more schooling in his future than he had ever imagined.
In May, 1923, Walker moved to Camp Devens, Massachusetts and taught there for a single summer at the Organized Reserve Camp. Then, an amazing thing occurred in Major Walker's life. Following the completion of his teaching assignment at Camp Devens, he was assigned to West Point where he would be a Tactical Officer. Walker told all of his friends that it was a complete surprise to him-but was it?
There is a saying: "Be careful what you wish for-you might get it." In Walker's case that might be altered to, "Be careful what you complain about-it might come back to bite you in the ass." As a student at West Point, Walker was well known for his supposed disapprobation of and constant complaining about the Tactical Department, specifically, and the Tactical Officers, in general, who taught there. Twelve years before, he did not have a single good word for either the TD or the TO's. His protestations could be proof of Shakespeare's quote: "Methinks he doth protest too much." Walker undoubtedly had greater respect and appreciation for the department and instructors than he wanted anyone to know-in keeping with his "Rebel" reputation. The post of Tactical Officer cannot be assumed by anyone except those who specifically indicate a desire to serve in that capacity. Walker was a Tactical Officer for two years and in later years he often told friends that it was one of the most pleasant and beneficial periods of his career. Two things happened during his tour of duty at West Point to make him feel that way.
It was during Walker's tour of duty at West Point that he married Caroline Victoria Emerson of Philadelphia. Their wedding on 18 March 1924 was a simple ceremony performed at Memorial Church of St. Paul in Overlook, Pennsylvania. Following their honeymoon, the Walkers returned to West Point and the subsequent summer-on 31 July, 1925-their only son, Sam Sims Walker, was born. When young Sam was seven weeks old, the army ordered the Walkers to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Walker's performance at West Point was typical of his career. He worked hard, did the best job he could, and fulfilled his duties in a superior manner.
Reports by officers who were cadets under his instruction indicated that Walker was an exceptional "Tac." One such report reads: "We admired and respect him very much. You couldn't put anything over on him . . . he had high standards and he was firm and fair and played no favorites . . . and he knew how to pass out a "slug" along with a twinkle in his eyes that left you still liking him . . ."
Like most effective career officers, Walker had ambition. He gladly accepted an opportunity to attend the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in June, 1926-in spite of his previous comment about being "fed up" with schools. After graduating, he received recommendations for the General Staff Eligible List, the War Department General Staff, and for High Command. In fact, he had done so well that he was rewarded with a very special detail. He was given the job of Infantry Representative of the Staff and Faculty of the Coast Artillery School at Fort Monroe, Virginia. It was a professionally beneficial post that lasted four years and Walker considered it to be one of the best jobs he ever held. By the end of his tour of duty, however, he was once again due for foreign service and his good luck continued.
Walker was given an assignment that was considered to be a prize job for an Infantry Officer. He was made battalion commander of the 15th Infantry Regiment stationed at Tientsin, China. It was his third overseas post and he held it from 1930 until 1933.
His job as battalion commander was to patrol the International Railroad at Tientsin and protect American citizens riding the train.
During the 1930's, the whole world seemed to be in turmoil. And China was not immune to political convulsions. Communism was on the rise in many nations, the Japanese were becoming more powerful and more aggressive, and World War II was faintly on the horizon. Because of the political insurrections in China the Tientsin railroad was repeatedly attacked by Chinese "bandits" who were later identified as Chinese communist insurgents.
Walker always referred to his Chinese duty as one of the best and happiest times in his life. He used this rare opportunity to familiarize himself with the Chinese people, to study their language and customs, and to learn as much as he could about the country. What he learned during this assignment helped him immensely when he was made commanding general of the Eighth Army in Korea.
In addition to Walker's duties of protecting the railroad and chasing "bandits," he had two other reasons for enjoying his assignment. First, he was permitted to have his wife and son with him. Secondly, he was able to devote a great deal of time to hunting-his favorite hobby-in the Tientsin area and the Gobi desert. One of his "hunting trips" was a 1,000 mile excursion in search of antelope and big-horned sheep in weather where temperatures dipped as low as 50 degrees below zero. When he returned to more mundane duties in the U.S. in 1933, he was stationed at Fort Mead, Maryland as a battalion commander.
On 1 August, 1935, Walker was promoted to the permanent rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Wearing his shiny new silver leaves, instead of fifteen year old, well worn gold leaves, Walker moved back to Washington, D.C. and once again became a student, this time at the Army War College. When he graduated in 1936, the U.S. Army considered him to be "fully educated" in the art of war.
His first command as a Lieutenant Colonel was as Executive Officer of the 5th Infantry Brigade at Vancouver Barracks in Vancouver, Washington. It was a pivotal junction in his career. The commanding officer of the 5th Infantry Brigade was a Brigadier General named George Catlett Marshall. General Marshall would rise to five-star rank, become Roosevelt's closest advisor, and be the chief architect of the U.S. Army in World War II. Marshall was perhaps the best contact Walker made in his career.
Marshall kept track of the best men he met or who served with him in the event he would need them in the future. Although Walker was at Vancouver Barracks for only a year, he and Marshall worked closely together. They developed mutual admiration and respect for each other. They also became close, personal friends outside their military responsibilities.
By the end of August, 1937, Walker was on the move again. He was now a member of the War Plans Division of the War Department General Staff. By the end of his assignment, he was Executive Officer of the Division.
On 14 April, 1940, Walker was promoted to the temporary rank of Colonel and was assigned to Camp Polk, Louisiana where he assumed command of the 36th Infantry. On 10 July, 1941, Walker was promoted again, this time to the temporary rank of Brigadier General and was given command of the Third Armored Brigade.
Moving up the ladder of success, Walker was promoted to temporary Major General in 1942 and given command of the 3d Armored division. Like Patton, his future seemed to be linked progressively with armor command. 1942 was also an important year for Walker in that his and General Patton's careers began to coincide.
General George S. Patton, Jr. had been searching for the perfect place to train troops for the planned invasion of North Africa. Flying his personal Stinson airplane all over the southeastern United States, Patton decided to use major portions of the Mojave Desert for his planned Desert Training Center. The training center was so large it included parts of California, Nevada, and Arizona. All in all, the Desert Training Center was composed of 55,000 square miles of what could at best be described as a "damned inferno." From mid-1942 until early 1944, more than a million men were trained for armored warfare at the DTC. These men constituted the core of tankers and mechanized infantrymen who won World War II.
The terrain in the DTC was so rugged and desolate-and the climate was so blistering-that Patton's men (and subsequently Walker's) would actually look forward to North Africa just to get away from the DTC. It was here that Patton created the Desert Training Center. When Walker took over the DTC, he changed the headquarters from Camp Iron Mountain to Camp Young, which was located about 30 miles east of Indio, California.
When Patton's initial training groups were redesignated as the Western Task Force and shipped off to North Africa there was an opening for another commanding general at the DTC. General Walker was just the man for the job. In 1942, he assumed command of the IV Armored Corps and the DTC, following closely in Patton's footsteps. Whereas Patton used the site primarily as an armor training area, Walker went many steps further. He created the first fully simulated Theater of Military Operations in the United States. The area he commanded was larger than the British Isles.
Life at the DTC under General Walker was no less arduous than under General Patton. General Walker accepted no excuses for anything. The well worn joke about the weather being so hot you could fry eggs on the sidewalk was no joke at the DTC. There is, in fact, a picture in Walker's XX Corps unit history that shows two soldiers frying eggs on their tank. The inventiveness of American soldiers was also exhibited by their use of flat stones being used as cooking surfaces.
Temperatures in the desert could-and very often did-surpass 120 degrees Fahrenheit-and that was outside the tank. If complaints were voiced, Walker replied without apology, "Soldiers in combat zones are paying with their lives for dilatory training which they received in this country. I will not allow any unit under my command to leave unprepared for war." Walker set up a circumspect program of forced marches and endurance training which included even elderly officers. A friend of Walker's commented, "His idea was to make training so damn hard that combat would seem easy."
Colonel Melville I. Stark, one of Walker's staff officers remembered the heat as, " . . . terrific, sometimes hovering at 125 degrees in the raw patches of shade. And there was sand-sand everywhere. Added to the blistering heat were other enemies; snakes, scorpions, centipedes, and the sudden blinding sandstorms."
Stark offered the added opinion that although General Patton started the DTC, General Walker is the man who indisputably made it a going concern. Stark remarked, "Most local people associate the Center with General Patton. His flamboyant character left a deep impression. It is neither derogatory of General Patton, nor does it reduce his stature to suggest that the commander who probably made the greatest single contribution to the center's development was General Walker, whose war record as commander of the famous XX "Ghost" Corps, under Patton's Third Army rivaled the master's in every respect."
This would not be the only time that the famous Patton personality overshadowed Walker's greatness.
Walker's contributions to the DTC and the American war effort were much more than just the training of men for desert warfare. Lt. Gen. Leslie J. McNair, commanding general of the Army Ground Forces, send a letter to General walker dated 9 March, 1943, which read in part:
"An underlying idea is to make your organization and experience a guide or yardstick in connection with our many overseas establishments which appear at this distance to involve a tremendous and unwarranted overhead. [author's italics]
As you near the end of your tour, I want to express my appreciation of all you have done out there, of the fine morale and spirit which pervades the place, and of course, above all, the training progress achieved. I feel that the Center which you are leaving is really an organized affair, as contrasted with the improvised, Topsy-like array which you found on your arrival. I say this, of course, without criticism of Patton, who was the pioneer and who made a fine start.
With best regards always. Again, many thanks, and best wishes for a pleasant but short tour at Camp Campbell."
Walker relinquished command of the Desert Training Center on 29 March, 1943 and took his IV Corps to Fort Campbell, Kentucky for additional armor training. The IV Corps now consisted of the 26th, 30th, 75th, 83rd, and 98th Infantry Divisions and the 12th and 20th Armored Divisions.
Walker was temporarily relieved of duties as IV Corps commander and was given orders to visit the North African Theater of Operations as an observer for the U.S. Army Ground Forces. His job was to visit the fighting fronts and learn first-hand about the soundness of American training methods, the effectiveness of U.S. Army strategy and tactics, and the efficiency of U.S. weapons and equipment. He was also given the responsibility of studying German tactics with special emphasis on armored warfare and defensive combat.
After witnessing the storming of Hill 609 and Djebel-La Anz by American troops and the follow-up American actions to the final stages of the Battle Tunisia, Walker returned to Headquarters, Army Ground Forces and wrote his report. He indicated confidence in both the American soldier and American equipment and he stressed heavily the unconquerable spirit of the American G.I.
Walker returned to command of the IV Armored Corps in October, 1943. Taking a little time off from his duties, he gave a talk to an American Legion post in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he said, "A strong well-trained, well-disciplined American soldier was more than a match for the best that the enemy could produce." Later on, his opinion rang true during his highly successful campaigns in the European Theater of Operations.
After Walker resumed command of the IV Armored Corps, it was redesignated as the XX Corps and subsequently was transported to England where they continued with further training. XX Corps headquarters set sail from New York aboard the "Queen Mary" on 12 February 1944 and reached the Firth of Clyde, near the town of Gorrock, on 18 February 1944. The initial command post of XX Corps was organized in a postcard-perfect English hamlet named Marlborough in Wiltshire. In late June, the Command Post moved approximately five miles to the east at Ogbourne St. George. This was the final CP of XX Corps before it moved to Southhampton in preparation for sailing to "Utah" beach on the Normandy coast on 18 July.
In the latter part of June, 1944, General George S. Patton, Jr., walked into Walker's XX Corps headquarters. Patton, who always said he liked to look his best when going into battle, was wearing his signature uniform-"Ike" jacket, rows of combat ribbons, highly polished helmet and cavalry boots, pink riding breeches, and his ever present ivory-handled, double-notched Colt .45 revolver. Patton's visit was more than social. He was there to inform General Walker's XX Corps had been chosen to be the spearhead corps of Patton's Third Army.
By the time the XX Corps landed on Utah Beach on 23 July 1944, and established its CP near St. Jacques de Nehou, General Walker had already been "blooded" for World War II. Because the First Army's XIX Corps commander was ill, Walker was substituted. As temporary commander, he flew to the beachhead during the Overlord Invasion on 6 June, 1944 where he earned another Silver Star-in the appropriate form of an oak leaf cluster-for personally leading the attack across the Vire River near St. Lo.
After resuming his own command, Walker later displayed extraordinary heroism near the French town of Mélun, where he personally directed the establishment of a critical bridgehead in the face of enemy fire. Walker received the Distinguished Service Cross, praise from the U.S. War Department, and special mention by Prime Minister Winston Churchill during an address to the House of Commons.
Touring Europe With the XX Corps
In August, 1944, XX Corps officially became General Patton's Third Army spearhead unit. In the following months, Walker personally and repeatedly demonstrated the XX Corps motto: "In spite of hell and high water."
On 1 August, General Patton gave Walker the green light Walker began his aggressive drive eastward and never looked back. Under Walker's expert leadership the XX Corps initiated an incessant attack against the Germans. Walker would prove to be General Patton's best student and most aggressive corps commander. At the end of the war, Patton would refer to Walker as his best Corps commander.
Walker's highly successful use of combined armor and motorized infantry, his demonstrative personal courage, and his ability to sense and rectify critical situations won the outright admiration of General Patton. Walker, like Patton, was always at or near the front. It was Patton who personally awarded the Distinguished Service Cross to Walker for his conduct at Mélun. The official report for Walker's DSC reads: ". . . General Walker took personal command, and, under heavy small-arms and machine-gun fire which wounded his aide and two enlisted men of his party, he reorganized and succeeded in pushing armored infantry across the river at Ponthierry and Corbeil . . ." From that day on, Patton affectionately referred to General Walker, in his uniquely eloquent manner, as: "That Fighting Son-of-a-Bitch."
Walker's XX Corps moved quickly out of Normandy, hurrying past Avranches, and pushing through a gap in the German lines. They struck east toward Laval, smashing the Germans with quick, powerful armored jabs as they sped across France to the Seine River, crossing at Mélun. Walker personally directed this river crossing in the face of enemy fire. As a avid student of military history, Walker was fully aware that in 55 B.C. Labienus had also personally taken his Tenth Legion across the Seine at this point.
It was during this period the XX Corps was christened the "Ghost Corps." The two reasons for the name were; 1) The Germans never knew exactly where they would strike nor where to defend against them, and 2) because of security restrictions, orders had been issued from SHAEF that the XX Corps was not to be mentioned by name in any communiqués or newspaper stories until they had been in combat for a number of months. Because of these clandestine orders, U.S. corespondents began reporting that a "Ghost Corps" was wreaking havoc on the Germans and no one except the American top brass seemed to know who was doing it.
Once the "Ghost Corps" was across the Seine, Walker's veterans continued his advance without missing a beat. He was well aware-as Patton repeatedly asserted-that too many battles and campaigns had been lost because armies stopped on the wrong side of a river and wasted valuable time regrouping after victories. Walker subsequently crossed the Meuse River at Verdun on the run. He was eventually stopped, but not by the Germans. The reason was due to decisions at SHAEF headquarters. SHAEF failed to supply the victorious XX Corps with adequate gasoline and ammunition while they were giving inordinate amounts of these necessities to General Montgomery in the north in preparation for his upcoming Operation Market-Garden. As if that weren't bad enough, General Lee-commanding general of ComZ-arbitrarily decided that this was a good time for his headquarters to move to Paris. To accomplish his move, he used thousands of trucks and tons of gasoline that should have gone to combat units.
Finally, on 8 November, the XX Corps was in a position to renew their attack.
When Walker's men captured the city of Metz and its network of forty-three fortresses, it was the first time since 641 A.D. the city had been taken by assault. Once again, Prime Minister Churchill uttered Walker's name in the House of Commons saying that he had accomplished, "a glorious and massive achievement." Churchill spoke of Walker's brilliant strategy, lauding his stabbing, encircling movements as, "a model of military art." After the Metz capture, Walker was decorated by France, Luxembourg, and the Soviet Union. He received another Distinguished Service Cross in recognition of being able to regroup during an on-going assault while personally under heavy enemy fire that killed many staff officers around him.
On 16 December the Germans initiated the Ardennes Offensive. Because of the immediate need for Patton's intervention at the southern base of the German attack, the XX Corps was put on the defensive for the purpose of guarding the flanks of the American counter-attack. When the Battle of the Bulge was over two months later, XX Corps was allowed to continue their eastward campaign.
Walker's eager, enthusiastic, and sometimes cocky soldiers crossed the Moselle River and punched holes through the German's supposedly "impenetrable" Siegfried Line. They quickly roared into Germany and seized the German communications center of Trier, which was the key to the Palatinate. Patton and Walker must have had a hell of a good laugh together when Bradley told Patton to bypass Trier because it would take at least three divisions to take the city. Patton replied to Bradley with the comment, "We've already taken it with only two divisions. Do you want me to give it back?"
XX Corps then moved past Kassel, liberating 21,000 slave laborers from prison camps at Buchenwald and Ohrdruf. Appalled by what he had seen, Walker issued orders for the entire population of those cities to be assembled and herded through the camps to see for themselves the horrors inflicted on their fellow human beings. After inspecting the camp at Ohrdruf, the burgermeister and his wife returned home and committed suicide.
Shortly after this episode, General Patton made a visit to XX Corps and found their headquarters units very comfortably settled in a chateau at Schloss Weissenstein. In their next move forward, the XX Corps took over the palace of the princes of Thurn and Taxis. Patton commented, "General Walker had an uncanny capacity for choosing excellent command posts for himself."
By now, German resistance to the onrushing XX Corps was rapidly deteriorating. Their will to fight was almost non-existent and their armaments were negligible. As each day passed, XX Corps found they could easily and quickly move closer to Austria and Czechoslovakia. They could go anywhere they wanted without opposition. American casualties were very low, progress was rapid, and the Corps was now preparing to cross the Moldeau River unopposed. Once again, they were stopped, and once again, not by the Germans.
Dutifully following orders from SHAEF, Walker's XX Corps turned south, crossing the Danube River into Austria. By the time Walker found out about Germany's surrender on 8 May, 1945, his XX Corps was in Linz, Austria where he had made contact with the Russians.
On 27 April, 1945 that Walker was informed of his temporary promotion to Lieutenant General, which was actually effective on 15 April. The three-star set that General Patton personally pinned on Walker was unique, indeed. They were the same three-star set that General Eisenhower had worn and pinned on General Patton. Those stars meant a great deal to Walker and he made sure to wear them on very special occasions.
General Walker had led his XX Corps across Europe under the command of one of the toughest, most demanding generals in the history of the U.S. Army. Patton loved men who were fighters and despised men who had no balls. Patton never hesitated to relieve a general who led his men stupidly or who had failed to look after their welfare within the limitations of combat.
Following the end of World War II, no one praised General Walton H. Walker more than General George S. Patton. No other general in the U.S. Army rated Walker higher than Patton did. One of the many anecdotes about Patton and Walker that made the rounds was that Patton once yelled at Walker as he walked by, "Walker, are you the toughest son-of-a-bitch in this god-damned army?" Without missing a beat, Walker yelled back, "You're fuckingA right, General."
It was General Patton who gave Walker his second nickname. Watching Walker on the parade ground one day, Patton remarked that Walker's determined jaw and short, powerful build made him look exactly like a bulldog and the name stuck. From then on, he was referred to as "Bulldog" Walker.
Lt. Col. Peter D. Regis (U.S. Army, retired) was part of Walker's XX Corps headquarters unit, serving in the capacity of Liaison Officer. In his position, he had many opportunities to meet with and observe General Walker. His opinion of Walker was:
"Physically, he was not tall and he was inclined to portliness. In a social gathering he was always courteous and polite; never attempted to dominate a conversation. He drank very sparingly, left early. Walker had a round face with perfect features, and the beautiful smile of a matinee idol-not what Hollywood would picture of an American general leading an attack against the war-hardened forces of a stone-faced German tank commander. Hence, perhaps, the reason Walker chose to frown when posing before a camera.
"As a field commander he was fearless, decisive, and capable. He preferred a small jeep to a staff car, and attended only by his aide, Capt. Allard, was usually on the spot where the fighting was heaviest. His example prompted many officers to follow suit, which may have attributed to our high casualty rate. He eventually ordered staffers to avoid dangerous areas. Because radio silence was maintained, and our drive across Europe too rapid for laying down phone lines, orders to combat units were delivered verbally by liaison officers. Orders which I delivered from General Walker were always concise, decisive, compelling.
"From his aide, Capt. Allard, I learned that at one of Walker's first meetings with General George S. Patton, the Third Army commander was less than cordial. He suggested that Walker belonged to a click that did not warrant his approval. But events altered Patton's attitude soon afterwards when Walker and XX Corps contributed mightily to the celebrated military successes of General Patton and his Third Army.
"To my knowledge Walker committed no tactical errors, and surely, successfully accomplished the missions assigned to him by Patton. Walker's only "mistake" was jokingly pointed out to us at the Moselle River. General George C. Marshall chided us for out-distancing our supply lines by driving too far too fast.
"In summary, I would describe General Walker as a modest man, studious but not scholarly, with straight line logic.
"His star was eclipsed by the blinding personality of General Patton. And the "press-stop" on the presence and identity of Walker and XX Corps prevented war correspondents from reporting on our engagements and successes. Otherwise, Walker might have emerged as a really great commander in the eyes of the American public. But he never sought publicity for himself. I wrote several speeches for him, and his only instructions were to keep the sentences short."
Another officer with ample opportunity to observe General Walker close at hand-and from the viewpoint of a junior officer-was Colonel Howard McC. Snyder, Jr. His opinion of Walker was:
"My own first personal experience with General Walker began at Camp Polk, Louisiana, when I was his aide for a short time in the spring of 1941. He was then the Commanding General of the Third Armored Division. However, in his extremely considerate, as well as professionally well-advised judgment, my duties as an aide were negligible and I was successively schooled by the various division general staff officers and the division Adjutant General. In a short time I was able to pick up quite broad staff experience and accordingly I was soon assigned as an assistant G-3. This development of subordinate officers to train them to meet greater responsibilities was most characteristic of General Walker. He never allowed his own personal needs to retard the advancement of capable and promising subordinates. Indeed, it was just the opposite-he actually forced the work on them as fast as he thought they possibly could accept it.
"It was still as a member of the Third Armored Division, now Division G-3, that I next came in contact with General Walker. In the early days of Normandy, about July 1st, he came to XIX Corps to act temporarily in command of the Corps during the illness of our regular commander.....My division, in conjunction with the 30th Division, was having a rather tough time of it expanding a bridgehead across the Vire River, a few miles north of St. Lo. Everyone knows, of course, of General Walker's great audacity, but it was brought home to me vividly at that time, for scarcely had he been oriented on the situation than he passed rapidly through the Third Armored Division C.P., headed for the bridgehead area itself. He spent the next thirty-six hours there and the fighting troops immediately reflected his presence. A counter-attack was repulsed. Our tanks moved in efficiently and the attack moved forward. His dynamic and forceful leadership was readily apparent to front-line soldier and division or corps staff officer alike. As he left the XIX Corps four or five days later he was awarded a second Oak Leaf Cluster to the Silver Star he won in World War I.
"It was with surprise that I received orders in late August to report to General Walker's Headquarters for duty as XX Corps G-3. I spend a good portion of the 20th of August trying to find the Corps Headquarters, for, characteristically, it was on the move. Although the distance I had to travel from the First Army area to the Third Army area amounted to only twenty to twenty-five miles, it was not until the late afternoon that I reached my new place of business near Chateau-Thierry, and it was very late at night before I could personally report to the Corps Commander. Here again, was another dominant characteristic. He spent by far the greatest part of his time up with the forward combat elements, or with the division or regimental headquarters where immediate decisions could be made, and he left his staff to carry out their duties under direction of the Chief of Staff. This was the method that produced the brilliant results in our exploitation and pursuit operations across France.
"An impressive moment-one of many, of course-was on my second day with the headquarters when, again very late in the evening, both General Walker and General Patton arrived at the C.P. General Patton then and there awarded General Walker the Distinguished Service Cross for his fearless leadership with elements of the Seventh Armored Division at the difficult crossing of the Seine River near Malun. The tempo was already moving fast for me.
"General Walker's characteristics of fearlessness, tireless energy, and consideration of men and officers alike come to my mind in very many incidents. At one time he would be visiting the wounded in the hospital. A half day later, or perhaps less, he would be flying over heavy enemy fortifications to get a better personal knowledge of the situation, particularly as he did in the difficult operation wherein his corps overcame the flooded Moselle River and captured the great fortress city of Metz.
"For me, General Walker stands as a symbol of greatness that I can never hope to match. He has set standards of leadership worthy of emulation by the American officer with the most sincere and highest professional ideals."
When the XX Corps "press stops" were pulled and dispatches were finally allowed to refer to the "Ghost Corps" as the XX Corps and the "Ghost Commander" as Walton H. Walker, the town of Belton, Texas would find itself changed forever. Newspapers and radio stations began reporting World War II with a special focus on Walker and his soldiers spearheading Patton's incessant drive against the German Army. He was a true local hero, a Texas native who had "made good" in the big-time. After the end of the war in the European Theater, Walker made a trip to his hometown and found that people couldn't do enough to show their appreciation. "General Walker Day" was not just a small town affair. It was a state-wide celebration of a man who had accomplished great things in difficult times. In Belton, near the heart of the Lone Star state, almost 7,000 people showed up for the event. It was a welcome for the "home town boy" equal to any ticker-tape parade in New York city.
Following his homecoming, Walker made frequent trips home to visit his mother. Belton's memory of the general was recorded in a newspaper article: "The stocky figure with his ready smile and twinkling eyes was always a welcome sight to Belton and residents noted it quite proudly when his staff car with its general's stars . . . (was) parked in front of his home."
Of all the Texans welcoming the general as a "conquering hero" none was more proud than his Walker's mother. He and his mother were devoted to each other and his concern for her age and health was indicated in a letter to a member of the 1912 reception committee on the eve of the 35th year Class Reunion at West Point in June 1947. Walker wrote, ". . . my dear and aged Mother has become quite ill, and naturally I feel it my duty to get down to see her at my home in Texas as soon as I possibly can break away from here. . . I plan to fly to Texas to be with my Mother. I fear that at her advanced age anything might happen." Fate, however, always has its own ironic plans, as was proved when Walker's aged mother outlived her son.
Between World War II and Korea
With World War II over, Walker returned to the United States and assumed command of the Eighth Service Command, located in Dallas, Texas. It was while on duty in Dallas that Walker heard of Patton's vehicle accident and subsequent death on 23 December, 1945. Walker was saddened at the loss of the man who was his friend, mentor, and hero. He commented that, "It was not quite right that such a warrior should die in such a routine fashion." Walker considered George Patton to one of the great warriors of all time. Following his initial meeting with General Patton, Walker studied him, his methods, and his tactics in order to become a better general himself. Walker was never too proud to admit that he could always learn something new from the "Great Captains."
Throughout his time in Korea, Walker was never without a copy of Patton's book "War As I Knew It". He also carried a summarized list of what Patton called, "Lessons Learned" which he used to great advantage during the North Korean's offensives against the Eighth Army at Pusan. The concepts used by Walker-many borrowed from Patton-later became known as "mobile defense" warfare. His tactics were written up for Field Manuals and were used by the U.S. Army as classroom examples for study by future generals.
In May, 1946, Walker was transferred to the Sixth Service Command in Chicago, Illinois for the purpose of reactivating the Fifth Army. On 11 June, 1946, Walker assumed command of the Fifth Army and remained in command until September, 1948.
June 1946 was also when Walker and his wife attended the graduation of their son, Sam Sims Walker, from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Sam was an interesting contrast to his father. Not only was he six feet tall, he had attained the rank of regimental commander in the Corps of Cadets and was a star mid-fielder on the varsity lacrosse team. Sam married Charlotte Behrenberg in 1948 and eventually rose to the rank of four-star general before his retirement in 1984.
Although Walker brought his personal brand of professionalism, energy, and leadership to the Fifth Army post, he cared little for the job. He considered it to be fit for nothing but a "desk jockey." He gladly accepted new orders when they came through.
The assignment Walker accepted was as commanding general of the Eighth Army in Japan. He replaced Lieutenant General Robert L. Eichelberger.
The Eighth Army area of command included the islands of Japan from Hokkaido on the north, Honshu, Shikoku, and the southern-most island of Kyushu. Walker's primary mission was to carry out and enforce the terms of the surrender document under the direction of the Supreme Commander, General MacArthur. He was also given the responsibility for training, maintaining, and supplying the Army of Occupation and to perform administration of the Military Government. An added benefit of the assignment was that he and his wife would be reunited with their son, Sam, who was now a 1st Lieutenant in the 11th Airborne Division.
General Walker and his wife enjoyed life in Japan. He once wrote, "Caroline and I . . . are very happy in our new home. It is necessary that I do a great deal of traveling. Consequently, I have seen much of the country, and in the hinterland it is beautiful . . . it is very probable that this will be my last active duty, and I must admit that it will be a very satisfying way to finish up."
Walker's immediate concern upon assuming command of the Eighth Army was the appalling condition of the army. Soldiers were physically unfit, militarily untrained, and psychologically unprepared for any kind of combat. Weapons and materiel were close to being non-existent and what did exist was old, broken, and virtually useless. He quickly began a rigorous program to fix what was broken, but time was against him. When the North Korean's attacked South Korea, the American army was woefully unprepared for what they encountered. It makes one wonder just exactly what MacArthur and his headquarters staff had been doing since the end of World War II.
As it turned out, however, it was a lucky that General Walker had been given command of the Eighth Army. Without his training programs and excellent leadership, the Eighth Army soldiers would have fared much worse than they did. Without Walker, the U.S. would have been pushed into the sea and Korean would have been lost.
Walker, of course, had no idea that his new command would be the most complex, difficult, troublesome, and frustrating of his career. He was correct in feeling that it would be his last active duty command, but he was unaware as to how final his final command would be.
The Man Who Saved Korea
On 25 June, 1950, equipped with some of the finest Soviet weapons available, North Korean troops invaded South Korea. General Walton Walker was called on to work a miracle-to save Korea. His Eighth Army was not only under strength, it was very poorly trained and as poorly equipped to fight.
The odds for victory were heavily on the side of the North Korean communist army numbering 135,000 men. The horribly unprepared South Korean army had a strength of only 98,000 men and they were mostly constabulary troops. President Truman had purposely left the South Koreans with inadequate armaments because of his irrational fear that South Korean President Syngman Rhee was planning to attack North Korea first. There were less than 500 American "advisors" working with the South Korean constabulary.
The South Korean government quickly moved from Seoul to Taejon, about halfway between Seoul and Pusan, the country's major port. The North Korean attack had been devastating. The ROK army had lost most of its inadequate equipment and about 44,000 of its troops-either killed or missing-in-action. The job of keeping the communists from pushing the remaining troops off the peninsula fell to General Walker.
In spite of overwhelming odds, innumerable problems, and uniquely adverse conditions-caused by both the North Koreans and his own higher command-Walker was more than equal to the task at hand.
His performance in Korea in those first crucial six months of combat were nothing short of magnificent. His skill as a battlefield commander and his effectiveness as an innovative and tireless leader could not have been surpassed by any other general in the United States Army. Without Walton Walker in those difficult and treacherous months of the war, Korea could very easily have been lost to the communists.
Fighting an army of vastly superior numbers and which easily held the initiative, Walker conceived a "mobile defense" method of maneuver that allowed him to move his "too few" men and "too little" materiel around "too much" terrain. Under Walker's skillful leadership, the Eighth Army accomplished a mission that should have been impossible-impossible perhaps for a lesser man.
In short, it was General Walton H. Walker who saved Korea.
One man who appreciated General Walker's leadership ability and unsurpassed performance as well as the difficulties and frustrations he faced in Korea was the well-known Associated Press reporter and columnist, Hal Boyle. He had been a war correspondent in World War II and during the early days of the Korean War. On 31 July 1955, four days after the Korean truce document was signed, Boyle devoted a whole column to the memory of General Walker. His tribute to the little Texan, who gave his life in the name of freedom, was based on personal experience and personal observation of the general:
"Late General Walker Was Key in Saving Korea"
The man who saved Korea was "The Little Bulldog." He was Lieutenant General Walton H. Walker, first of the Eighth Army's four commanders in the 37-month long Korean campaign.
"And when the military history of that frustrating operation is written it must show "Johnny" Walker as a crucial figure. One wrong guess by him and the war would have been over within the first two months. We would have been shoved off the peninsula.
"Most generals prefer to fight cautiously. A few generals like to gamble boldly in attack. A truly fine general is one able to fight with equal genius either on the offensive or on the defensive.
"LITTLE BULLDOG. The Little bulldog, a squat, plump, square-jawed Texan who looked more like a small town businessman than an Army commander, proved before his death he could do both perfectly well.
" 'Johnny' Walker won his fame as leader of the 20th 'Ghost' Corps, which spearheaded the Third Army in Europe in the Second World War. General Patton was so pleased with his bold victories that he personally pinned on him the three-star insignia of a lieutenant general which General Eisenhower had given Patton.
"General Walker liked to recall that time in the early days of Korea, when he commanded surely one of the weakest armies ever to take the field anywhere.
"SLOW RETREAT. His task was to retreat as slowly as possible while regrouping the shattered South Korean forces and building up the American corps as fast as troops could be ferried to the front. He was unable to man a continuous battle line. He was short of everything-men, tanks, anti-tank weapons, artillery. Walker saved the day by a defensive that amounted to an offensive. He shuttled regiments and battalions and companies around the front in a continuous razzle-dazzle, throwing the enemy off balance by magically showing strength where they least expected it. At one time his force was so completely committed that if guerrillas behind the line had attached his own headquarters he wouldn't have been able to summon another platoon to defend it.
"NOT IN BOOKS. 'You won't find that in the books, will you?' he asked a correspondent later. 'They would say you were crazy to fight a war without reserves. But that's what we are doing-because we have to.' His famous 'stand or die' order when he created the Naktong River defense line seemed hopeless. But Walker rode about the front like a madman, standing up in his armored Jeep and gripping a handrail as he gave orders. The line bent, but never broke. 'The Little Bulldog' had to strain his line to the utmost by pulling out the 1st Marine Division, which was to land behind the enemy in the Inchon invasion on September 15. His weakened army then took its heaviest blows-and still held.
"ON OFFENSIVE. The day after the Inchon landing Walker immediately switched to the offensive again and predicted the war 'should quickly be over' unless the enemy was reinforced. Did he foresee the entry of the Red Chinese? Certainly he was well aware of the possibility. Walker smashed fiercely through the North Korean crust before him, and in the kind of pursuit he enjoyed raced clear to the Yalu River before ambushing Chinese forced him to draw back. It is questionable whether Walker thought the later 'win-the-war' offensive in November was wisely conceived-but he carried out his orders. When it was smashed, he pulled back 120 miles in an orderly retreat.
"PROUD OF TROOPS. 'My army isn't whipped,' he said, almost wistfully. 'It's proud of the way it came out of the offensive. And we will fight again.' But death prevented him from seeing his army's resurgence. Ironically, he died in a traffic accident, as had his idol, General Patton. He was killed December 25, 1950, when his Jeep crashed into a truck driven by a South Korean soldier.
" 'The Little Bulldog' now sleeps in Arlington Cemetery. But his true monument is the American Eighth Army he welded in Korea.
"For his services in Korea General Walker was awarded an Oak Leaf Cluster to the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism during the period July 14th to September 23, 1950, and from September 25 to October 2, 1950, and the Air Medal with 10 Oak Leaf Clusters for meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flights from July 7 to October 30, 1950. The following is quoted from the Army-Navy-Air Force Register of February 10, 1951:
"Presentation of the first Oak Leaf Cluster to the Distinguished Service Medal was made January 30 to Mrs. Walton H. Walker, widow of the late General Walton H. Walker, at an official ceremony in the Fort Hood Officers Mess.
"The posthumous award was made by Lieutenant General LeRoy Lutes, commanding general of the Fourth Army. The ceremony was witnessed by Captain Sam Walker, son of the late Eighth Army commander, Captain Walker's wife and other members of the immediate family.
"Many friends from nearby communities attended the ceremony along with M/Sgt. Walter Reynolds, who had served with General Walker for nearly eight years.
"The award which cited General Walker for 'exceptionally meritorious service in a duty of great responsibility was made before a color guard representative of the combat units of the 2nd Armored Division. The citation read: "General Walker distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious service to the government in a duty of great responsibility in Korean from June 30 to December 23, 1950. As Commanding General, Eighth U.S. Army, his will, courage, and undeviating steadiness of purpose made possible the successes of delaying actions during the initial phases of operations and later the defeat of the enemy in South Korea.
"He welded the units of many countries into a United Nations Army and induced imbued them with his own fighting spirit to overcome all handicaps and hazards. Employing his limited forces with the consummate skill of a master tactician, he made the larger enemy forces pay the maximum price for their limited successes repeatedly turning apparent defeat into victory. General Walker's outstanding demonstration of leadership, courage, and ability reflects the highest credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States."
Commanding The Eighth Army - Defining Mobile Defense
When the South Korean city of Seoul was captured on 28 June, President Truman authorized General MacArthur to engage the North Koreans with American troops. MacArthur, in turn, instructed General Walker to have basic elements of the 24th Division flown immediately into Pusan. Walker's orders were: "contact the enemy advancing south from Seoul . . . and slow his advance." Walker was hoping the rest of the division would arrive in time to keep the first contingent of men from being crushed.
MacArthur, with incredible hubris, thought the mere presence of American soldiers would frighten away the communists. His comment was that he hoped General William Dean's men would, "fool the enemy into a belief that I had greater resources at my disposal than I did." While attempting to block a double track railroad route north of the Kum River near Taejon, the 24th "Division" spread out and prepared for their first combat encounter. When it came, they were hit so hard it was a near disaster. Not only were the North Koreans "not fooled," they showed no fear whatsoever and were utterly contemptuous of the MacArthur's feeble attempt to stop them.
Walker kept feeding troops into the peninsula and on 8 July he met General Dean at his temporary base in Taejon. Walker informed Dean that he would be moving Eighth Army headquarters immediately from Yokohama to Korea. Taegu was selected as the site of the Command Post. A distance of only fifty miles northwest of Pusan, Taegu provided Eighth Army with the best choice of communications links, railroad routes, and highway routes. Four days after Walker's command post was in place, he raised the United Nations Command flag over his headquarters.
When Walker and Dean were riding toward Chosin a few days earlier, they saw many of the 24th's men retreating because they were outnumbered and outgunned by Sung Shin-Lun's 100,000 strong 9th Group Army. Walker saw one U.S. tank waiting by the side of the road. He asked the tank commander, "What are you planning on doing?" Although the American M-24 light tanks were no match for the Soviet T-34's, the young and inexperienced lieutenant replied, "I'm going to slug it out," Walker shook his head and said, "No, you're not. The idea is to stop these people. We don't want to go head to head and slug it out with anybody. We will take positions where we have the advantage. Positions where we can fire the first shots and still manage a delaying action." Dean later wrote in his diary, "Right there on the battle field he gave those men as fine a lecture in tank tactics as you could hear in any military classroom."
Sung Shin-Lun commanded the 9th Group Army of the Chinese People's Volunteer's Army and gained more fame than victories during the Korean War. He was well known for both his stubbornness and temper.
Sung was born in Hunan province and attended the Huangpu Military Academy, in the same class as Lin Piao. He joined the CCP while attending school.
Sung's forces were among the first to cross the Yalu River in October, 1950. Because of the mountainous terrain his soldiers encountered, they carried rifles, mortars, and machine guns but no artillery.
It was Sung's troops that pounded the UN forces at the Chosin Reservoir. Employing more than 100,000 men, he planned to surround the U.S. 1st and 7th Marine Divisions but ultimately lacked sufficient equipment and supplies to achieve ultimate victory.
Sung was appointed to the position of garrison commander for the city of Shanghai and subsequently was promoted to vice-chief of the Nanking military zone. In 1955 he was promoted to general and became president of the Military Science Academy.
Although the defenders were somewhat strengthened at this point, they were still young, inexperienced, and careless. Defense lines and soldier's morale were both deteriorating rapidly. Correspondents cabled home stories about the Eighth Army being, "in rout, reeling toward the sea." General Walker's comment was to the effect that he had never before done anything except attack. Being that he was now in a defensive position for the first time in his military career, he would have to play this by ear.
Walker realized that he must, at all costs, hold a strong line of defense completely around the port of Pusan. If Eighth Army were pushed off the peninsula there would be very little-if any-chance of recovering. The North Koreans would own the entire peninsula and the war would be finished. "This must be held at all costs," said Walker.
Within the next two months, Taejon fell, General Dean was captured, and the North Koreans hit the Pusan Perimeter with everything they had. Although the American and ROK defensive lines occasionally faltered, they remained reasonably secure-in spite of an ammunition shortage that forced Walker to ration only five rounds a day to his guns.
Walker had accomplished a miracle. No other commander in the United States Army could have performed better in the same circumstances. He used every trick he had learned during World War II-from General Patton and from his own experience. He used speed and surprise, keeping his extremely limited forces in a continual shuffle. He shifted his units from place to place, plugging holes where needed and launching small attacks when conditions allowed. By estimating the most vulnerable positions, he would borrow a unit from here, another from there, and rush them into the position in danger of being overrun.
Purely by personal observation he kept track of his entire contingent of forces. Walker had learned from General Patton the advantages of a light, Piper Cub for aerial reconnaissance. He often flew in his "L-19 Grasshopper" at tree top level, well within range of enemy rifles. Also like Patton, Walker used a specially designed jeep when traveling toward the front. Modified to Walker's specifications, it had a hand rail welded into place on the passenger's side so he could stand and observe while his driver drove the vehicle as fast as the roads would allow. Walker, like his hero Patton, loved to drive fast. Walker's jeep arrogantly displayed his Lieutenant General's flag with three stars and Walker brazenly wore his shiny helmet with his three-star rank. While other, more faint-hearted individuals called these items "sniper bait," Walker dared the commies to do something about it. The only concessions he made to the danger of a guerrilla attack was his well-oiled and shoulder-holstered .45 pistol and his automatic shotgun.
Whereas Patton was known for his ivory-handled Colt .45 revolver, Walker preferred a shotgun for close-in fighting. As corny as it sounds, he got the idea as a youngster when he read about the real-life exploits of another hero of his, Wyatt Earp. Since Walker loved to hunt, the shotgun also came in handy in case a pheasant flew up from a rice paddy. As a result of his constant presence at the front, Walker knew more about his defense perimeter than anyone else in the Eighth Army, including his own G-2 Intelligence staff.
Richard J. H. Johnston, a New York Times reporter, wrote that, "Walker is not the type to find out second-hand what's going on. In this war, as in the last, he is still 'front-line brass' in GI parlance. Along the hot, dust-choked roads of the Korean battlefront General Walker spends virtually every day of the week in his shining jeep . . . squinting slightly he studies the ridge lines, the valleys of approach . . . gripping the hand rail strategically welded to its frame, he appears less concerned with the fact that at any moment an innocent-looking, white-clad refugee trudging along the road's shoulder might whip out a gun and open fire on him than he does with the rugged terrain over which his troops are fighting."
Walker's ubiquitous front line presence had a purpose, of course-two in fact. By gripping the hand rail and standing, he could not only see for himself what the hell was going on, perhaps more importantly, he could be seen by his men! "When soldiers see a lieutenant general at the front they figure things can't be going too badly," Walker said.
Walker used many methods for building morale. He visited men in hospitals trains, he had sincere and candid discussions with both enlisted men and officers at the front, and unlike many commanders, he listened to what they had to say. Above all, he made sure they all knew he was truly concerned about them and their mission. Anyone who met him under those battlefield conditions would never forget him. From his shiny, bloused boots to his gleaming three-starred helmet, he not only looked like a warrior, he was a force to be reckoned with. Although Walker was generally soft-spoken and his comments were sometimes offered as suggestions, there were times that-when an occasion warranted it-he could unleash a frightful and awesome temper.
Problems With The Press
A demonstrable difference between Walker and his mentor, Patton, was Walker's reaction to publicity. Patton loved the limelight. He liked to have his picture taken and to be the center of attention. Walker's attitude was exactly dichotomous. He greatly disliked attention by the media. Unfortunately, his new place in history put the spotlight on him and news people dogged his every move, often second-guessing him as though they knew anything about the military in general and tactics in particular.
One problem Walker continually encountered was the press' lack of concern for the security of important and secret information. Reporters often were more interested in getting a bold headline than they were about the lives of the soldiers at the front. The communists had no such problems. The United States, of course, protected the press' right to be blabbermouths.
Because of Walker's reticence to talk to the press, he was labeled as "aloof" and as a result he was treated badly by them. Depending on the situation and the writer, opinions varied greatly on General Walker. Some called him, "a martinet," another, perhaps trying to be cute, said he was, "Grouchy as a bear with bunions," but one writer hit the nail on the head: "Walton Walker is just what the U.S. needs at this dismal point in Korea."
When Walker took command of the forces in Korea, he had assumed that he would be given adequate men, weapons, and materiel to fight the war but he was mistaken. Truman lost his nerve, MacArthur lost his command, and Walker was shunted aside as a "secondary force."
In Walker's first "Letters of Instructions" to his commanders, he wrote: "Circumstances have imposed a temporary strategical defense upon the army. The offensive will be resumed at as early a date as possible." In the meantime, he made every attempt to emphasize that he expected all of his soldiers to be aggressive and to perform extensive delaying actions to disrupt the enemy advance. Unfortunately, not being able to be everywhere at all times, unplanned and unjustified withdrawals during early encounters with the North Koreans were all too frequent.
In an attempt to stop the "bug outs"-and at the insistence of General MacArthur-Walker gave a speech in which he said, "General MacArthur was over here two days ago; he is thoroughly conversant with the situation. He knows where we are and what we have to fight with. He knows our needs and where the enemy is hitting the hardest. General MacArthur is doing everything possible to send reinforcements. A Marine unit and two regiments are expected in the next few days to reinforce us. Additional units are being sent over as quickly as possible. We are fighting a battle against time. There will be no retreating, withdrawal, or readjustment of the lines or any other term you choose. There is no line behind us to which we can retreat. Every unit must counterattack to keep the enemy in a state of confusion and off balance. There will be no Dunkirk, there will no Bataan, a retreat to Pusan would be one of the greatest butcheries in history. We must fight until the end. Capture by these people is worse than death itself. We will fight as a team. If some of us must die, we will die fighting together. Any man who gives ground may be personally responsible for the death of thousands of his comrades. I want you to put this out to all the men in the division. I want everybody to understand that we are going to hold this line. We are going to win."
Not only did the majority of the press label Walker's speech as a "stand or die" ultimatum, some civilians and even military people said it should be called "stand and die." The more correct attitude was voiced by an officer who was present in Korea and had knowledge of the situation. He said, "Walker's pugnacious temperament, whatever it did to those around and beneath him, added to the defense the one thing it needed most-stubbornness." Many reporters and civilians had already decided that the was lost and the U.S. might just as well get the hell out. And the sooner, the better. That was exactly the sort of negative press and negative thinking of people "back home" that Walker didn't need. It also bordered on aiding the enemy.
One thing his speech accomplished, inadvertently, was to let the American public know how badly things were going in Korea. Truman, the Pentagon, and Congress had never been truthful with the public. W.H. Lawrence, in a New York Times column, reported:
"There is a general feeling here, from privates to colonels, that Lieutenant General Walton H. Walker has made an important contribution to shaking American lethargy-to dispelling the 'we can lick them with one hand' attitude-by his bald statement that Americans must win or die where they now stand without hope of surrender or retreat and mass evacuation as at Dunkerque.
"People here have known for a long time of the critical stage which this battle has now entered and have been angered by Pollyanna-ish claims in the Department of Defense that everything was going well. The fact is that things are not and have not been going well, and the troops here who have bought time with blood and loss of ground and those who will take the main blows in the future want the American people to know that this is no second-rate army they are fighting which can be licked with only a comparative handful of American soldiers.
"It is perhaps obvious to the Pentagon, having led the American people to believed they were pretty well prepared, should take the position that these setbacks are only minor, and that all withdrawals were according to plan and that, in final analysis, we could hold a narrow perimeter around Pusan awaiting a built-up for an offensive push.
"Every G.I. and officer with whom this correspondent has talked, at the front and in the rear, has asked a single question: "Are you telling the folks back home the truth-that this is a tough and hard fight and that we need more help at once?"
"They were told today that not only had the newspapers published the hard, cold facts of this struggle but that their commanding general had gone a step further and made perfectly clear to the American public that we must win or die on this line and that decisive battles are now being fought.
"There were reports in informed circles here that the Pentagon had been surprised by the frankness of General Walker's statement and had been in touch with his headquarters by trans-Pacific telephone within hours of its publication.
"Perhaps as a result of these Washington approaches, the general today issued another statement expressing confidence that American lines would hold "until reinforcements arrive: and reiterating his certainty that "ultimate victory will be ours." But he added that "there is no point in not telling the simple truth, which is that the war has reached its critical stage."
"As we stand in Korea, now with two divisions-the Twenty-Fifth and the First Cavalry-engaged in the central sector and whatever remains of the Twenty-Fourth Division ready for action elsewhere, we are still out-manned. The enemy has more tanks, and we are still under pressure everywhere."
When General Ridgway took over Eighth Army following Walker's death, the press was overjoyed. Ridgway was tall, handsome, took a damn good picture, and was genial at press conferences. He was as much a press officer as he was a commanding general and he was an immediate hit with superficial reporters.
By the latter part of August, however, even though Eighth Army had been pushed down to the Pusan Perimeter, their defense positions were much more stable than before and it was Walker's use of Mobile Defense that had done the trick. In spite of the beating taken by the Americans and the record casualties inflicted on them by the communists, the Eighth Army's morale increased greatly-all due to Walker's strength as a commander.
Adding to the communists' multiplying troubles was the fact they had not completely beaten the Americans. They failed to push them out of Pusan and now they were running out of everything. Their supply lines were stretched so thin they couldn't sustain the attack. Their tanks and guns were being destroyed and they were running out of food and ammunition. And, they were exhausted. They lost the initiative and lost the North Korean part of the war. Now was the time for Walker to counterattack and destroy them. Walker offered a plan for a major counteroffensive, but he was ignored.
On 15 September, 1950, under MacArthur's personal supervision, 50,000 American soldiers and United States Marines landed on the western coast of the peninsula at Inchon, the port for the South Korean capital of Seoul. An entire Marine Brigade taking part in the attack had been pulled out of Walker's thin line for the operation. The following day, Walker's men broke through the Pusan Perimeter and began a race to link with the landing force at Inchon.
In spite of the success of the operation, one can't help but wonder what Walker would have been able to accomplish with the additional 50,000 men-especially the well trained Marines-and the huge amounts of supplies that had been hoarded by General Almond for the Inchon attack.
On 26 September, the Eighth Army and the XX Corps met at Suwon, fifteen miles south of Seoul. The North Koreans were in full flight, fleeing for their lives. They could have been and should have been utterly destroyed by the unified U.S. forces-but they weren't.
Knowing When To Quit
MacArthur, always the politician as much as the soldier, decided the South Korean government needed something to bolster its pride, to rejuvenate it. What was needed, he decided, was to immediately retake the capital of Seoul and reestablish the South Korean government there. Unfortunately, while this was happening huge numbers of North Koreans were escaping. After landing at Inchon, X Corps should have been moving across the peninsula, cutting off the fleeing communists, and helping the advancing Eighth Army to destroy them. This did not happen. Politics brought to a standstill what should have been one of the most decisive victories in the history of warfare. What happened became one of the most controversial and most disastrous actions of the Korean War.
The question being asked was, "Should the UN troops cross the 38th parallel and mop up the remnants of the North Korean Army?" Had military principles been adhered to immediately after the Inchon landing, there would have been no need to cross the 38th parallel. The whole of the North Korean army could have been destroyed below the arbitrary line.
When Truman involved the United States in the Korean War, he stated unequivocally that he was doing so to, "stop aggression." All he wanted to do, he said, was to save South Korea and push the North Korean communists back where they belonged. According to that criteria, the Korean War was over. The United Nations had won. The North Korean communists had lost. It was a done deal. Had the United Nations Command stopped there and secured the border, Truman would have been a admirable world leader, MacArthur would have retained his reputation as a strategic genius and would have been able to retire to accolades, and Walker would have been alive to retire as one of the greatest generals in American history.
Truman, however, changed is mind. He just couldn't leave it alone. Now that UN forces were in control, Truman apparently felt secure and powerful enough to alter his position. He was no longer satisfied with halting the North Korean's aggression, now he wanted to reunify all of Korea.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff told MacArthur that "Washington"-meaning Truman-wanted two things, 1) enemy forces in the north destroyed and 2) Korea unified. On 7 October, at the urging of the Truman administration, the United Nations Assembly endorsed a plan to cross the 38th parallel and the administration of free elections.
When Truman initiated United States involvement in Korea, it was for a noble cause. It was the right thing to do at the right time.
Because of the success of the Inchon landing, and with victory in sight, Truman made another momentous decision on the basis of a noble cause-reunification of and free elections for Korea. This time around, though, Truman's luck went sour. Sadly, when the Chinese communists joined the fray and the fortunes of war began to turn against the UN forces, public opinion turned against him and he lost his nerve. He was prepared to scrape the entire endeavor. His "noble cause" dissolved into a tragedy with the purchase price being Truman's presidency.
It was the enduring theme of Truman's administration. They never planned anything with circumspection. Decisions were made in haste-sometimes appearing to be made by whim in lieu of logic-and were often made purely on the basis of political expediency. Cause and effect rarely had meaning-"cause" being considered for the moment and not for its "effect" months or years in the future.
General Walker was concerned about his orders to cross the 38th parallel. As is always the case, the leader on the battlefield is abundantly more aware of the combat situation than are the generals sitting at headquarters hundreds of miles to the rear.
Walker's cautious movement into North Korea and his concern for his vulnerable flanks were not considered by some to be normal for an officer molded in the image of General Patton, but what was not understood by the armchair generals was that Walker was aware of the possibility of Chinese intervention. He knew his situation could easily become another debacle reminiscent of when the better equipped and better trained North Koreans attacked the poorly equipped and trained South Korean Army. In spite of his natural audacity, Walker knew the limitations of his Eighth Army.
Walker was aware of the warnings issued by the Chinese and he believed the communists would make good on their threats. The Chinese Premier, Chou En-Lai, made many attempts to keep from going to war with the Americans, but Truman dismissed them out of hand every. The time Walker spent in China during the early 1930s taught him to take very seriously what the communists said. But Walker was a good soldier who followed orders. He would argue as much and as loudly as anyone, but once a decision was made, and an order was given, he did what he was told. It's the mark of a professional. Given the command to cross the line, he did so in spite of his great skepticism about the wisdom of the order.
Chou En-Lai was foreign minister and premier of the People's Republic of China during the Korean War. He was educated in Japan and while a student, he became radical leftist, fully committed to the communist cause early in his life.
As a worker and student in France during World War I, he helped establish the Chinese Communist Youth League. He returned to China in 1924 and became director of the political department of the Whampoa Military Academy which, at the time, was commanded by Chiang Kai-Shek. In 1927, Chiang split with the communist party, but Chou remained, gaining power and stature.
Chou negotiated a united front for the purpose of fighting the Japanese in 1936 and thereby helped to temporarily halt the Chinese civil war. He was the Chinese Communist Party's main representative to the Republic of China's wartime government in Chungking and he participated in negotiations led by General George C. Marshall to bring an end to the civil war.
When the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949, Chou became premier-a post he held until his death in 1976-and minister of foreign affairs-a position he held until 1958.
In 1950, Chou actively attempted to avert war with the United States. His public statements indicated that South Korean troops in North Korea would not be considered a major threat, but American troops would be. He gave numerous warnings that Americans on the banks of the Yalu River would be an intolerable situation for the Chinese government and such action would, in fact, cause the Chinese to commit troops to the war. MacArthur failed to heed their warning, Truman and the Joint Chiefs of Staff-lacking a strategy other than panic-acquiesced to MacArthur's demands, and the Korean war immediately assumed a wholly different perspective.
With the Chinese armies committed to battle against the Americans and the ROK, Chou used the occasion to demand that a settlement could only be reached following the total withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Korean peninsula and from the island of Taiwan.
Chou also demanded that, subsequent to Taiwan's legitimate return to China's mainland government, the People's Republic of China be given it's "rightful" seat at the United Nations. There was little doubt that he also planned on unifying Korea under the communist flag.
Once More Into The Breech
On 9 October, 1950, Walker's Eighth Army, including contingents from Great Britain, Australia, and Turkey, crossed the 38th parallel. Meeting almost no opposition, Walker moved up the western coast of the peninsula and captured the North Korean capital of Pyongyang 100 miles north of Seoul. On 19 October, MacArthur, who played baseball at West Point, sent Walker a message: "Heartiest congratulations . . . that is really hitting the old pill for a home run!"
By the end of October, 135,000 North Koreans had surrendered and UN troops were getting close to the Yalu River, the natural border between North Korea and China. Things were going great for MacArthur, but then the Chinese ruined it.
For some time, communist China sent signals to the United States that American soldiers on the banks of the Yalu river was absolutely intolerable. If that happened, they said, it would be considered an act of war against the Chinese government. Many such warnings were issued, mostly through intermediaries at the United Nations, but the Truman administration ignored them all.
The Chinese had assembled large forces near the Yalu River and now they were clandestinely moving them across the river in great numbers. In typical guerrilla manner they hid by day and moved only by night.
Walker, unlike Almond, recognized the threat from the Chinese from the start. Like any good commander, he constructed different plans to meet different contingencies. He was following Patton's advice to, "Make your plans fit the circumstances. You can't make your circumstances fit your plans." He already had contingency plans for an orderly pullout from the frozen North Korean country in the event that the Chinese did attack.
When the expected attack came and the Chinese tried to envelope the Eighth Army, Walker quickly pulled back. As he did so, he implemented a "scorched earth" policy reminiscent of Sherman's March. Anything-absolutely anything-that might be useful to the Chinese was to be utterly destroyed. Bridges, power plants, airports, warehouses, roads, and railroads, were all destroyed by Walker's army.
The Chinese sent four entire armies against Walker's single army. Incessant waves of Chinese soldiers-screaming fanatically and prodded by bugle call signals-continually pounded the Eighth Army. Walker was forced to use all of his reserves-which wasn't much-just to keep from being overrun by the Chinese horde.
By the middle of December Eighth Army had withdrawn below the 38th and formed a defensive perimeter both north and east of Seoul. It was there that Walker planned to make his stand, waiting for the Chinese and North Koreans.
MacArthur later wrote: "Walker's skillful withdrawal had been accomplished with such speed that it led to many comments by ignorant correspondents that the troops were in flight. Nothing could have been further from the truth. The troops moved in good order and with unbroken cohesion. They were in excellent spirit and good condition."
On 19 December, President Syngman Rhee personally awarded the South Korean "Order of Military Merit" to General Walker while thanking him for his crucial role in the defense of South Korea.
Four days later, Walker was dead.
Drive Like Hell
On 23 December, 1950, Walker climbed into his jeep and left his forward headquarters near Seoul. Because he, like Patton, spent so much time in his jeep, he liked for it to be comfortable. His driver, George A. Belton, had specially designed the jeep. It had heavily cushioned automobile seats, oversized fenders and fender skirts to keep mud from spattering all over, and a rear extension to allow for passenger comfort. It was so popular he designed several more for other high-ranking officers.
Walker's trip that morning had two purposes. He was planning on handing out some special Christmas presents. First, he had unit citations for the 24th Division and the British Commonwealth 27th Brigade. Secondly he had a Silver Star he wanted to personally pin on a twenty-five year old captain in the 24th Division-his son, Sam S. Walker. It was one of the very few missions Walton Walker failed to complete.
Like Patton, Walker's aggressiveness displayed itself in his driving habits. Walker loved to drive fast. He instructed his driver, George Belton, to make record time.
Belton was driving Walker's jeep past a column of trucks on the opposite side of the road. As they passed the line of trucks, Walker was thinking about his old friend and boss, George Patton. Thinking out loud, he remarked, "I wonder how George would have done it?"
A single truck coming from the opposite direction suddenly pulled out, trying to get around the vehicle in front of it. Ironically, Walker's jeep was only traveling at twenty miles per hour, but it was still too fast to get out of the way. The three-quarter ton weapons carrier, driven by an ROK soldier, collided head on with Walker's jeep. The general struck the windshield, was thrown from the jeep, and landed on the side of the road. He died almost immediately. An ambulance was pulled out of the convoy and Walker was taken to a field hospital an hour away. The field surgeon examined him and stated quite simply, "The commander is dead."
Colonel Darold R. Freeman (USA, Retired) was a corporal in Korea. He remembers being given orders on 23 December to go out and cut a Christmas tree for his unit. In a letter dated 1 May, 1996, he wrote that, "While traveling northeast on a narrow gravel road, a procession of three 1/4 ton jeeps approached our vehicle, from the front. The first 1/4 ton was an MP jeep, the 2nd jeep had a general in it, and the third jeep was a trailing MP jeep. We smartly pulled off the road and I saluted as any passenger in the front of a cargo truck should. We went on our way, cut the tree, and returned by the same route, but on our return, we came upon a wrecker that was retrieving a destroyed 1/4 ton jeep. Upon arrival at my unit, I was informed that General Walker had been killed in the 1/4 ton that we had passed. I have often wondered if I was the last soldier to have saluted the General while he was alive."
Walker's mother was notified of her son's death by telephone. At three o'clock in the morning in the stone house on Pearl Street where Walker had grown up, the phone rang. May's sister Elizabeth answered it. After listening for a few moments, she handed May the receiver saying, "The call is for you."
May Walker was now a small, frail lady in her early eighties yet she maintained a quiet and dignified manner inherent to the pioneer people of her bygone era. She forced herself to remain composed, expecting the message she had always dreaded she would hear. On the other end of the line, thousands of miles away in Japan, her daughter-in-law Caroline said, "Mama . . . 'Boy' is dead." May Walton accepted the news calmly, as her son would have expected her to. She said wistfully, "It seems that he was a baby and a small boy such a short time." Walton was always a good soldier, she thought to herself. She, too, would be a good and brave soldier. She knew he would have been pleased by her demeanor.
When word of Walker's death spread through Belton-through the whole of Central Texas for that matter-people were shocked. Belton, itself, was quiet and subdued as news of his death spread from house to house and from store to store. One person in particular mourning the General was James K. Evetts, Belton's District Attorney. As a young officer, Mr. Evetts was by General Walker's side in Europe, serving as an aide during World War II. When he heard the news he said, "It was just like telling me my dad was killed." Neighbors reminded each other of the General's quick and frequent smile, the twinkle and understanding in his dark blue eyes, and his strong, hearty handshake. He was a man much loved in Belton. A man who would be sorely missed.
Among the hundreds of phone calls, telegrams, and cablegrams sent to Walker's mother, one was from Raymond Mondon, Deputy Mayor of Metz. It read, "Metz learns with consternation of the accidental death of its liberator General Walker. We bow with emotion before the mortal remains of the great soldier, and ask you to accept the respectful condolences which I express to you in the name of our city."
Although Walker's driver, Sergeant Belton, wasn't killed in the accident, he was very seriously injured. He spent nine months in the Army and Navy Hospital at Hot Springs, Arkansas recovering from a broken pelvis, head injuries, and an injured bladder, but he lived to tell about the accident and to reminisce about General Walker.
Retired Master Sergeant Belton was interviewed in December, 1978. He recalled: "Right before the accident, I looked at the general. I remember he had sunglasses on. He just smiled at me." Of all the important men Belton drove-and there were many-he remembers Walker most fondly. He spoke of his great admiration for him saying, "He treated me like a son." Although Belton had no actual proof, he believed he was originally chosen from a list of motor pool drivers because of his name.
Belton had been Walker's full time driver in excess of ten years, both in Europe and in Korea. He was also a part time driver for many other military luminaries. He had particular memories of most of them.
Belton thought General Patton was, without question, a genius, but he didn't like to drive him because he always wanted to drive right up to, and sometimes beyond, the front lines. It was a dangerous place to be.
Belton enjoyed driving General Eisenhower, recalling him as easy-going and as having a great smile. Belton remembers being, "stunned," when he found out Eisenhower accepted the Republican nomination to run for President. Belton once asked Eisenhower about running for president and Ike replied, "I wouldn't have it."
There was one man, in particular, whom Belton hated to drive. General Mark Clark had the habit of making his driver (whoever it was) always stand at attention next to the car or jeep until he returned from his meeting or function. "That," said Belton, "could make for an extremely long and uncomfortable wait." Clark, however was the exception rather than the rule. Belton never minded driving Omar Bradley or Jonathan Wainwright.
Walker's accident was just one more parallel-this time a tragic one-with General Patton who died on 21 December, 1945 as a result of injuries from an automobile accident. Perhaps it's this parallel that occasionally causes the media to incorrectly report that General Patton was killed in a jeep accident. Walker once referred to General Patton's death, saying, "It was not quite right that such a warrior should die in such a routine fashion." The same could easily be said of the "Little Bulldog."
Walker and Patton were similar in as many ways as they were opposites. Their careers intertwined and were similar in so many ways, perhaps it's fitting that their deaths should be similar, too. Patton often remarked that Walker was the best corps commander he ever had. In a commendation to Walker, Patton wrote: "Of all the Corps I have commanded, yours has always been the most eager to attack and the most reasonable and cooperative. You and your Corps are hereby highly commended for your outstanding achievement."
When the fighting ended in Europe in May, 1945, Patton hoped to go to the Pacific Theater, but with MacArthur in charge, there was little chance of that happening. Patton, however, was the eternal optimist about his chances to get back into the fighting and one man he wanted with him-if his hopes came true-was "Johnny" Walker. In a letter to Walker dated 1 August, 1945, Patton wrote: "My dear Johnny: Thanks very much for your letter of 26 July, with the enclosed clipping. The only criticism I have of it is that you gave me too much [credit] and yourself and your Corps not enough. I appreciate, naturally, your generosity in this connection, but don't overdo it. After all, you pulled a tremendous load in whatever success the Third Army had. So far as your and my fighting is concerned, it looks dubious now, but if it does [happen], I am certainly going to take you [with me] if the War Department lets you go, and I think they will. With warm personal regards, I am, as ever, Devotedly yours."
Walker and Patton were great soldiers and great men. They were friends and warriors alike. The bond of friendship and mutual appreciation between the two men was so strong that General Walker was chosen to be General Eisenhower's representative to accompany Beatrice Patton when she flew to Germany to be with her husband following his accident.
General Walker's final journey was one of great distance, from a field hospital in Seoul to his final resting place in Arlington National Cemetery. America's highest military honors were accordingly given to Walker's body all along its travels. He was flown to Tokyo were he was met at the airport by General MacArthur, his staff, and all of the top United Nations commanders in Japan. Accompanied by General MacArthur's Honor Guard, Walker was carried by motor hearse to Yokohama and thence to the Walker home in the presence of his wife and son.
Private funeral services were conducted in Yokohama and on 30 December, a funeral party consisting of Mrs. Walker, Captain Sam S. Walker, and Master Sergeant Walter Reynolds boarded a plane bound for Washington, D.C. The airplane, a Constellation, arrived on 1 January 1951. Impressive Episcopal services were held the following day in the Fort Meyer, Virginia chapel. Immediately following the services Walker's body was buried in the nearby Arlington Cemetery.
Walker's military funeral-with full honors-was later described anonymously by one of Walker's 1912 classmates. His impressions are:
"I have never witnessed a military funeral that could compare with the one at Arlington honoring our beloved classmate, Walton Walker. After reading the headlined stories and editorials of many of our eastern newspapers, and seeing the very formal services at Meyer and Arlington, I am prouder than ever to be his classmate. Every detail of the most solemn ceremonies seemed in keeping with the expressed sentiments of the nation at large toward this wonderful little soldier man who demonstrated repeatedly what a fighting general he was.
"It was indeed a funeral of high state and military pomp, with twenty-five Honorary pallbearers of the Nation's top military leaders-all old service friends headed by the Secretary of Defense, General Marshall; the Commander of Atlantic Pact Forces, General Eisenhower; the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Bradley; and General Jacob Devers, Retired.
"The mourners from the immediate family consisted of Caroline, the widow, and their son Sam. Walton's aged mother could not make the long trip to Washington because of her advanced age and ill health.
"Above the caisson which bore his casket from the chapel to the grave on a hilltop close by the graves of Generals Pershing and "Hap" Arnold, floated the four-starred red flag signifying the well-earned posthumous promotion awarded Walton-as General MacArthur had recommended before his death-by special congressional action only an hour before the funeral.
"Official Washington was well represented, including top officials from the White House, both houses of Congress, Cabinet officers, diplomats of countries of the free world, and heads of the Armed Forces of the Nation.
"Reverend John B. Walthour, Dean of the Episcopal Cathedral, Atlanta, Georgia, formerly cadet chaplain at West Point from 1943 to 1947, conducted the religious services by special request of the family. While the seventeen gun salute sounded, there was one final short prayer, '. . . Grant, O God, our Father that out of this strife may come that permanent peace which is built upon the foundation stones of justice, truth, and righteousness.'
"Then followed the three sharp volleys of the firing squad and finally that plaintive and touching melody, Taps. I wiped the tears from my cheeks, feeling that our classmate Walton, having thus ended his course on this earth, is entitled to the salute from his classmates and Alma Mater: 'Well done! Be thou at peace!'
"After the rites, General Collins, Chief of Staff, went to General Bradley's quarters at Fort Meyer, where Caroline was a guest, and with General Marshall-an old and intimate friend of the family-presented to her the four-star flag used at the funeral and also the new commission awarding four-star rank to Walton."
As Walker was being buried, General Matthew Bunker Ridgway, former 82nd Airborne Division commander, took command of the Eighth Army. Life goes on. General Charles de Gaulle is reputed to have said: "Graveyards are full of indispensable men."
General Walker Remembered
Major General Leven C. Allen:
". . . The sorrow that has fallen over General Walker's entire staff is overwhelming, for he was loved and revered by each and every one of us. Those who have been associated with him will never cease to mourn his death. His deeds and outstanding leadership in a most difficult campaign will live forever in history. General Walker's last act was typical of him; he was going forward to visit his front-line troops . . ."
Vice-Admiral C.T. Joy
"On behalf of the officers and men of the Naval Forces Far East, May I express heartfelt sympathy and condolences on the most tragic loss of your husband and our friend Lieutenant General Walker. As a soldier and man, he was held in the highest esteem and respect by all in this command. Because of our close and fondly remembered association with him in the past we can feel a genuine kinship with you in this hour of bereavement."
The Nation of South Korea:
In 1987 a monument to General Walton H. Walker was unveiled at the Walker Hill Hotel in Seoul, Korea. In attendance was Sam S. Walker, a retired four-star general himself, Sam's wife, General Chung Il-Kwon of the South Korean army, and President Park. General Chung said of Walker:
"When we evaluate these who have passed on, we think about what they were doing when they died. From that viewpoint, General Walton Harris Walker, for whom we are unveiling this monument today, is one who should be highly regarded because he laid down his life for world peace, which is mankind's greatest hope, and his death occurred while he was carrying out his mission...We Koreans are fully aware that this is the only way to repay the General for his great deed in preserving the freedom and peace of this land, and to the sacrifice made by America, the General's native land...I believe that someday the will of the noble spirits of those people who gave up their lives, like General Walker, will be realized and this land will become a far more freer and better place to live."
Korea's president, Park Jung-Ki's address fully concurred with Chung's assessment of Walker's importance to the saving of Korea. He said, "I can think of no occasion more meaningful than this which we are hereby gathered to witness today; that is, the ceremonial unveiling of the commemorative monument to the late General Walton Harris Walker, who sacrificed his life in this land as commanding general of the Eighth U.S. Army in 1950.
As we all well know, without his noble and peace-loving spirit, and without his courage as a soldier, the prosperity we are enjoying now in this nation could not have been achieved.
There is an old saying that a great man's noble spirit lasts for 100 years, but its essence never disappears. General Walker's noble spirit and sacrifice still dwells in the hearts of the Korean people even though it was 37 years ago that he died. Not only that, but his unyielding soldierly spirit still stands as a model for all of us today."
"I am profoundly shocked at the death of General Walker. As commander of the Eighth United States Army he proved himself a brilliant military leader whom I had just recommended for promotion to the rank of full general. His gallantry in action has been in inspiration to all who have served with him, and his loss will be keenly felt not only by our own country but by those allied with us in defense of freedom on the Korean peninsula..."
Major General E.E. Partridge:
". . . During the first six months of the Korean War, it was my good fortune to be associated with General Walker and to share with him the many trials and the few victories that fell to the lot of our armed forces during that time. Starting with little more than a speaking acquaintance, there developed between us one of the finest relationships it is possible to imagine.
"Flying together over much of Korea, each of us acquired a sympathetic appreciation of the other's problems.
"The outstanding job that the Eighth Army did in Korea, especially during the first two-and-one-half months, is little known.
"It was only by "Johnnie" Walker's dogged persistence, his skillful manipulation of units to meet first one threat and then another, and his insistence on team play in exploiting the assistance we were able to provide with our aircraft, that the Army was able to survive those trying days.
"Johnnie Walker did a great leadership job for which he has thus far received scant recognition.
"The relationship between the headquarters of the Eighth Army and the Fifth Air Force was the best I have ever seen. It reflected the honesty and directness which characterized all Johnnie Walker's dealings. He was held in high regard by those who were most closely associated with him in the Korean operation. He was the stoutest supporter that the Fifth Air Force ever had, and my officers and men join me in expressing deepest regret over his great loss."
Lieutenant General Matthew B. Ridgway:
"The more I absorb the spirit of this great fighting team, the more I learn of its achievements, the greater is my admiration for the indomitable heart of the great soldier whose sudden tragic passing brought me to this post.
"Operating under conditions as adverse, in their way, as any in our military history, the Eighth Army under Johnnie Walker's gallant and soldierly leadership had added a chapter distinguished by skill, fidelity, and valor . . ."
A tribute to General Walker's greatness was reflected in John Toland's book In Mortal Combat. In a letter dated 27 August 1995, he wrote to me:
"All the information I had on General Walker, who has been misrepresented by many authors, is in In Mortal Combat. General Walker should be recognized as a remarkable man who faced MacArthur's poor decisions with good grace. The so-called great victory of MacArthur at Inchon was actually a great mistake as I reported in my book. In my previous book, Occupation, he was at his finest as the shogun of Japan, but in the Korean War he was at his worst."
Harry S Truman:
"Deepest sympathy in the loss of your husband on the battlefield of Korea. Our country has suffered a tremendous loss, too. General Walker had a great talent for generalship. He was a true leader of his men and suffered with the hardships of his campaigns. He was a SOLDIER-a real soldier. To you and to me there is no higher compliment."
Trygve Lie, Secretary General of the United Nations in New York city cabled General MacArthur:
"I and all of my colleagues in the United Nations are deeply grieved to hear of the tragic death of General Walker. His soldierly qualities and unselfish service have won him an indelible place in the annals of the United Nations."
United States Eighth Army:
". . . General Walker assumed command of the Eighth United States Army in South Korea on 15 July 1950. The military situation was critical. His superior knowledge, experience, personal leadership, and tenacity of purpose were immediately reflected in the action of his troops. He organized a defense which brought the invading North Korean forces against an impregnable barrier miles short of their goal. His personal courage and his unshakable faith in his troops became an inspiration to all. His skillful timing of counterattack prevented a numerically superior force from any exploitation of local successes and wrought great destruction on the enemy. Through his superior tactical ability and skillful employment of the limited troops of his command, General Walker unleashed an offensive with such power and fury that the enemy was driven into a state of disintegration in a matter of days. The pursuit and destruction of the enemy which followed will go down in history as a monument to his military leadership.
"His unerring timing and prompt tactical action when confronted by a new and powerful enemy resulted in the skillful extrication of his forces and the avoidance of a possible military disaster.
"During the entire period of military operations General Walker made frequent visits to the front-line units of his command in order to have first-hand knowledge of the capabilities and progress of his troops to insure their welfare. It was during one of these visits that he met his untimely death.
"The officers and men of the United Nations force in Korea will never forget the determination, skill, and aggressive leadership of their respected commander. His soldierly demeanor and aggressive spirit are a heritage for the troops of the United Nations and will foster a precept that will inspire and direct them in their future missions.
"With his passing, the nation has lost a faithful soldier. The Army has lost a great commander . . ."
Mrs. Sam. S. Walker:
"God's will be done! My most fervent prayers have been with him constantly that he would give to the many sons of other mothers the very best leadership possible. Many mothers have already had to bear the sorrow of the loss of their sons on the Korean battlefields. May God give me the courage and strength at this time to accept gracefully the loss of my son as other mothers had to do."
"So died one of America's great men. His life was more than a mere following of West Point's "Duty, Honor, Country" tradition; rather, the story of Walton Walker's career provides the living inspiration which must exist beside such tradition if high ideals are to long endure. In his sixty-one years, Walker changed from the independent lad who chased girls home with a wooden sword, through a quite unruly cadet and a daring-do battalion commander, to the man who was never known to argue with a Patton order. The change never was complete, and he is revered as a compound of all these elements.
"Although he was not especially a statement-issuing general, Walker could be very articulate on occasion. His "stand or die" order sounded the note on which Korea was defended. Earlier in the campaign, he had written, "We are fighting in Korea the age-old struggle of freedom against tyranny," and, "Human freedom is always worth the price we pay for it." Walker knew what he was fighting about. More prophetically, he wrote, following the disappearance of Major General William F. Dean, "This is the kind of war in which a lot of generals could be lost if it lasted long enough."
"General Walker was known as a swearing, hard-bitten man, but actually his language was mild. Although he frequently used expletives, his choice fell into the class of 'cussin.' He was, like Patton, a religious man, but unlike Patton, he didn't call upon God as if he were his G-3.
"In the brief six months he spent as an embattled commander, Walton Walker won the respect of the nation. As one, the people of the United States were shocked to learn of his untimely death. It was as if each had lost a personal friend. The little general had led a seemingly charmed life up to that time, and it was inconceivable that he should die as a non-battle casualty. His grateful country posthumously raised him to General, by a unanimous vote in the first meeting of the new Senate."
West Point-Class of 1912:
"So, we of 1912 now stand in spirit, bareheaded, in reverential salute to our most distinguished and beloved classmate-your own and our own too-Johnnie Walker, who died such a glorious death, true to form with his boots on, fighting in keeping with the highest traditions of Alma Mater, of the Class of 1912, and with his whole heart and soul, for God and Country, to the end that Christian Democracy and freedom might prevail over atheistic communism and slavery. May Classmate Johnnie Walker's noble soul rest in peace always."