Biography

Walker, Walton Harris "Johnnie"
[Lt.Gen. CG EUSA]

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 Eighth U.S. Army

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Walton Walker

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Walton Walker
biography
Walton H. Walker as lieutenant general
Birth name Walton Harris Walker
Nickname(s) "Johnnie"
Born (1889-12-03)December 3, 1889
Belton, Texas
Died December 23, 1950(1950-12-23) (aged61)
South Korea
Place of burial Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance biographyUnited States of America
Service/branch biographyUnited States Army
Yearsof service 1912 1950
Rank biography General
Unit biography 5th Infantry Division
Commands held biography 3rd Armored Division
biography XX Corps
biography Fifth Army
biography Eighth Army
Battles/wars

Veracruz (1914)
World War I
World War II

  • Invasion of Normandy
  • Battle of the Bulge

Korean War

  • Pusan Perimeter
Awards Distinguished Service Cross (2)
Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Silver Star (3)
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross (2)
Bronze Star
Air Medal (12)
Army Commendation Medal
Relations General Sam S. Walker (son)

Walton Harris Walker (December 3, 1889 December 23, 1950) was a United States Army general (promoted posthumously to four-star rank) who was the first commander of the U.S. Eighth Army in Korea at the beginning of the Korean War. He died in a jeep accident in South Korea on December 23, 1950. Walker also was a commander in World War I and II.

Biography

Early life

Walker was born in Belton, Texas on December 3, 1889. His parents, Sam and Lydia Walker were both college graduates whose fathers had been officers in the Confederate Army. His father, a merchant, taught him how to ride a horse and to hunt and shoot. He graduated from the Wedemeyer Academy (established 1886-1911) in Belton.

Military career

He entered Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in 1907 and graduated from West Point in 1912. As a lieutenant, he served in the Vera Cruz expedition under Brigadier General Frederick Funston. Patrolling on the U.S.-Mexican border in 1916, he developed a close friendship with Dwight Eisenhower.

World War I

During World War I, Walker fought in France with the 5th Infantry Division and was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action.

After World War I, Walker rotated through a variety of assignments, including service in China, Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and teaching duties in several posts, including West Point. In the 1930s he served as executive officer of an infantry brigade commanded by George Marshall, the future Army Chief of Staff.

World War II

When hostilities broke out in Europe in 1939, Walker was executive of the War Plans division of the general staff, but when Marshall (now Chief of Staff) assigned George Patton to organize America's armored forces, Walker successfully lobbied Marshall for a post as one of Patton's subordinate commanders, gaining promotion to brigadier general in the process. Promoted major general in 1942, he commanded Third Armored Division and eventually XX Corps, taking the latter to England in early 1944 and leading it into combat in Normandy in July as part of Patton's Third Army.

Walker's XX Corps played a role in Patton's dash across France in August and early September 1944, earning the sobriquet "Ghost Corps" for the speed of its advance. Walker's troops saw heavy fighting in France and Germany during the remainder of the war, especially at Metz, the Battle of the Bulge, and in the invasion of Germany. In the spring of 1945 XX Corps liberated Buchenwald concentration camp then pushed south and east, eventually reaching Linz, Austria by May. Walker received his third star at this time, making him a Lieutenant-General.

Post-World War II

biography

After the war Walker became commander of Fifth Army, headquartered in Chicago, but in 1948, was assigned as commanding general of the Eighth Army, the American occupation force in Japan. Walker was ordered by General Douglas MacArthur, the Supreme Allied Commander in Japan, to restore the depleted Army to combat-worthy condition.

Korean War

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Gen. Walker (left) confers with Major General Bill Dean in Korea

 

June 25, 1950

Shortly after the North Korean invasion of South Korea on June 25, 1950, the Eighth Army was ordered to intervene and drive the invaders back across the 38th parallel, the border between the two countries. With only four lightly equipped and poorly trained divisions, Walker began landing troops on the southeast side of the Korean peninsula in July. After his lead units, elements of the 24th Infantry Division (including the ill-fated Task Force Smith), were virtually destroyed in a few days of furious fighting between Osan and Taejon, Walker realized his assigned mission was impossible and went on the defensive. Pushed steadily back towards the southeast by the North Korean advance, Walker's forces suffered heavy losses and for a time were unable to form a defensible front, even after bringing the 1st Cavalry and 25th Infantry Divisions into the fight.

Walker's situation was not helped by unrealistic demands from MacArthur in Tokyo not to retreat an inch. Attempting to obey, Walker gave a bombastic "not a step back" speech to his staff and subordinate commanders which did not go over well. Nor did it stop the North Koreans from pushing back the Americans and the Republic of Korea Army (ROK), which had been badly mauled in the opening days of the invasion, even further.

As American and ROK forces retreated further east and south, they finally arrived at a defensible line on the Nakdong River. They took advantage of shortened supply routes and a relatively good road network to exploit the advantages of "interior lines". Walker was able to quickly shift his units from point to point, stopping North Korean attacks before they could be reinforced. The Americans were greatly aided by decoded radio intercepts of enemy communications, giving them advance knowledge of where North Korean attacks would occur. Walker was also able to employ artillery and airpower to great effect.

August 8, 1950

No doubt owing to the perceived problems in Champeny's 24th Infantry, Eighth Army did not fully trust the 3/9. Upon its arrival in Pusan, Johnnie Walker decided not to commit it directly into hard combat. Instead, he ordered that the 3/9, plus one of Keith's 15th FAB batteries, a company of Shermans of the 72nd Tank Battalion, engineers of the 2nd Engineer Combat Battalion, and other forces, be sent to guard the FEAF airfield at Yŏnil, near P'ohang. This task force was commanded by the ADC, Sladen Bradley, and Chin Sloane. In this way the 3/9 was introduced to combat in Korea gradually and the Hill-Sloane command problem was temporarily postponed. However, the deletion of the 3/9 left the 9th Infantry with merely two infantry battalions (and two supporting artillery batteries), a composition that would considerably penalize and confuse its leaders, who were accustomed to the standard three battalion formation.[7-64]

American forces gradually solidified this defensive position on the southeast side of the Korean peninsula, dubbed the "Pusan Perimeter". Walker received reinforcements, including the Provisional Marine Brigade, which he used along with the Army's 27th Infantry Regiment as "fire brigades," reliable troops who specialized in counterattacking and wiping out enemy penetrations.

As more reinforcements arrived, the combat advantage shifted toward the American and South Korean forces. North Korean forces had suffered terribly and their supply lines were under constant aerial bombardment. Almost all of their T-34 tanks, which spearheaded the invasion, had been destroyed. Walker ordered local counterattacks while planning for a large scale breakout in conjunction with MacArthur's Inch'ŏn landing in September.

September 15, 1950

With MacArthur's amphibious flanking move, the North Koreans seemed trapped but Walker's rapid advance northwest towards Inch'ŏn and Sŏul emphasized speed over maneuver and made no attempt to encircle and destroy the North Koreans after punching through their lines. Although thousands of prisoners were taken, many North Korean units successfully disengaged from the fighting, melting away into the interior of South Korea where they would conduct a guerrilla war for two years. Others escaped all the way back to North Korea.

With the war apparently won, Walker's Eighth Army quickly moved north and, with the independent X Corps on its right, crossed the 38th parallel to occupy North Korea. Fighting tapered off to sporadic, sharp clashes with remnants of North Korean forces.

October 1950

By late October 1950 the Eighth Army was nearing the Yalu River, North Korea's border with China. Walker, informed by MacArthur's headquarters that the Chinese would not intervene, did not insure that his troops maintained watchful security. Due to a lack of coordination between Walker, General Edward Almond, Commander of the X Corps, and MacArthur's headquarters in Tokyo, a gap had opened between Eighth Army and X Corps as they moved close to the Chinese border. Eventually, the weather had turned savagely cold, and most American units had no training and inadequate equipment for the bitter temperatures.

Contrary to MacArthur's expectations, the Chinese intervened in force; first in a series of ambushes, then in sporadic night attacks, and finally in an all-out offensive in which large Chinese forces infiltrated the lines, taking advantage of the American failure to take basic security measures, and the large intervals between American and South Korean units and between the Eighth Army and the X Corps. From late October until the beginning of December in 1950, the Chinese killed or captured thousands of American and ROK soldiers, decimating the 2nd Infantry Division and forcing Walker into a desperate retreat.

December 1950

By early December, using his superior mobility Walker successfully broke contact with the Chinese, withdrawing south to a position around Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. Without instructions from MacArthur's headquarters, Walker decided that Eighth Army was too battered to defend Pyongyang and ordered the retreat resumed to below the 38th parallel.

December 23, 950

On December 23, 1950, Walker was killed in a traffic accident near Uijeongbu when his command jeep collided with a civilian truck at high speed as he inspected positions north of Sŏul. His body was escorted back to the United States by his son, future General Sam S. Walker. Walker was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on January 2, 1951.

 

 

 

 

 

Military decorations

Walker's military decorations include:

biographybiography Distinguished Service Cross with one oak leaf cluster
biographybiography Distinguished Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster
biographybiographybiography Silver Star with two oak leaf clusters
biography Legion of Merit
biographybiography Distinguished Flying Cross with one oak leaf cluster
biography Bronze Star
biographybiographybiographybiography Air Medal with two silver and one bronze oak leaf clusters
biography Army Commendation Medal

Legacy and honors

Promoted posthumously to 4-star General, Walker's memory was much honored in the years immediately following the Korean War. The Army chose his name (and his other nickname), for its next light tank, the M41 Walker Bulldog. Dallas, Texas, named the western segment of Texas State Highway Loop 12 after him (the portion going through neighboring Irving, Texas continues the naming convention). One of the largest Armed Forces Recreation Center's hotels, the General Walker Hotel in Berchtesgaden (now demolished), was also named in his honor. Camp Walker in Daegu, ROK is named in his honor.

The M41 Tank was already nicknamed the Little Bulldog before Gen. Walker's death and Army retained Bulldog as part of the new nickname for the M41 Tank, while dropping the word little.

In 1963, South Korea President Park Chung-hee honored the general by naming a hill in the southern part of Sŏul after Walker. Today, Walker Hill is the site of the Sheraton Walker Hill, a five-star international resort and hotel, and Walker Hill Apartment in Gwangjin-Gu. In December 2009, the mayor of Dobong-gu district, Choi Sun-Kil, unveiled the Walton Harris Walker monument to mark the site of his death. The memorial, which is near Dobong subway Station, pays tribute to Walker and to all those who defended South Korea in the Korean War.

Walker Intermediate School, located on the Ft. Knox Army Garrison, opened in 1962 and is named in his honor. His picture hangs in the school lobby.

A biography of Walker was published in 2008 called "General Walton H. Walker: Forgotten Hero-The Man Who Saved Korea", by Charles M. Province.

Dates of rank

Source - Official Register of the United States Army. 1946. pg. 713 Note - ranks are those held in the Regular Army unless otherwise indicated.

biography

Korean War

Shortly after the North Korean invasion of South Korea, in June, 1950, the Eighth Army was ordered to intervene and drive the invaders back across the 38th parallel, the border between the two countries. With only four divisions, still lightly equipped, poorly trained, and insufficiently hardened, Walker began landing troops on the southeast side of the Korean peninsula in July. After his lead units, elements of the 24th Infantry Division (including the ill-fated Task Force Smith), were virtually destroyed in a few days of furious fighting between Osan and Taejon, Walker realized his assigned mission was impossible and went over to the defensive. Pushed steadily back towards the southeast by the North Korean advance, Walker's forces suffered heavy losses and for a time were unable to form a defensible front, even after bringing the 1st Cavalry and 25th Infantry Divisions into the fight.

Walker's situation was not helped by unrealistic demands from MacArthur, in Tokyo, not to retreat an inch. Attempting to obey, Walker gave a bombastic, "not a step back" speech to his staff and subordinate commanders which did not go over well, and did not stop the North Koreans from pushing the Americans, and the ROK forces (the South Korean army, which had been badly cut up in the opening days of the invasion), back even further. Indeed, outside observers began to fear the Eighth Army would be driven into the sea, creating, "another Dunkirk," and causing tremendous damage to American prestige in what was believed to be a struggle between the communist East and non-communist West for world dominance.

However, as American and ROK forces retreated further east and south, they finally arrived at a defensible line: the Nakdong River. They could now take advantage of shortened supply routes and a relatively good road network to exploit the advantages of "interior lines." Walker was able to quickly shift his units from point to point, reinforcing weak spots, meeting, slowing down, and eventually stopping North Korean attacks before they could reinforce them. The Americans were greatly aided by decoded radio intercepts of enemy communications, giving them advance knowledge of where communist attacks would occur. Walker was also able to employ artillery and airpower to great effect for the first time.

American forces gradually solidified this defensive position, which formed a small corner on the southeast side of the Korean peninsula, and was dubbed the "Pusan Perimeter"(for its chief port and supply center). Walker now received some much needed reinforcements, including the Provisional Marine Brigade, which he skillfully used, along with the Army's 27th Infantry Regiment, as "fire brigades," especially reliable troops who specialized in counterattacking and wiping out enemy penetrations. For several weeks, fighting raged up and down the perimeter. Losses were heavy on both sides. The North Koreans almost broke through on several occasions but each time they were beaten back, sometimes by airpower, sometimes by artillery barrages, most often by the tenacity and fighting spirit of the soldiers and Marines in the foxholes.

Gradually as more reinforcements arrived, the balance of combat power tilted in Walker's favor. North Korean forces had suffered terribly and their supply lines were under constant aerial bombardment. Almost all of their T-34 tanks, which spearheaded the invasion, had been destroyed. Walker ordered local counter-attacks while planning for a large scale breakout. This occurred in conjunction with MacArthur's audaciously brilliant Inch'ŏn landing in September.

1944 Shepherd, Walker, Shapley, Schneider (this is not correct for this time period)

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BGen Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., Commanding General, 1st Provisional Marine Brigade and his principal officers, from left, Col John T Walker, brigade chief of staff; LtCol Alan Shapley, commander, 4th Marines; and Col Merlin T Schneider, commander, 22d Marines, view a relief map of Guam for the brigade's operation. Department of Defense Photo (USMC) 90434

The strategic situation was now reversed; with MacArthur's amphibious flanking move, the North Koreans seemed trapped between his anvil at Inch'ŏn and Walker's hammer coming out of the Pusan Perimeter. But Walker's attack, a straight ahead, hell-for-leather dash northwest towards Inch'ŏn and Sŏul, emphasized speed over maneuver. It made no attempt to encircle and destroy the North Koreans after punching through their lines. In fact, although thousands of prisoners were taken, many North Korean units successfully disengaged from the Americans, melting away into the interior of South Korea - where they would conduct a guerilla war for two years. Others escaped completely, marching at night, on foot, all the way back to North Korea, to fight another day.

At the time, however, this seemed unimportant. With the war apparently won, Walker's Eighth Army quickly moved north and, with the independent X Corps (commanded by Walker's nemesis, Almond) on its right, crossed the 38th parallel to occupy North Korea. Fighting tapered off to sporadic, sharp clashes with remnants of North Korean forces. By late October the Eighth was nearing the Yalu River, North Korea's border with China. Walker, informed by MacArthur's headquarters that the Chinese would not intervene, did not insure that his troops maintained watchful security. Indeed, there was a slack, "home by Christmas" attitude in many Army units. Also, due to a lack of coordination between Walker, Almond, and MacArthur's headquarters in Tokyo, a huge gap had opened between Eighth Army and X Corps as they moved close to the Chinese border. Finally, the weather had turned savagely cold, and most American units had no training and inadequate equipment for the bitter temperatures.

All this proved disastrous when the Chinese did, in fact, intervene. First in a series of ambushes, then in sporadic night attacks, finally in an all-out offensive, large Chinese forces infiltrated, in, around, and between American units, skillfully taking advantage of the American failure to take basic security measures, the large intervals between spread out American and South Korean units, and the 80 mile wide empty space between Eighth Army and X Corps. From late October until the beginning of December, the Chinese caused havoc, killing or capturing thousands of American and ROK soldiers, almost destroying the 2nd Infantry Division, and forcing Walker into a desperate retreat.

By early December, using his superior mobility (in trucks and other motor vehicles), Walker had successfully broken contact with the Chinese (who had virtually no motorized transport), withdrawing south to a position around P'yŏngyang, the capital of North Korea. Asking for but receiving no instructions on what to do next from MacArthur's headquarters, Walker decided that Eighth Army was too battered in body and spirit to defend P'yŏngyang, and ordered the retreat resumed to below the 38th parallel. Vast amounts of supplies which had been accumulated in the capital were ordered destroyed, and as freezing, dejected, exhausted US and Korean troops passed through the city they were treated to the spectacle of these supplies going up in huge bonfires.

June 25, 1950

biography biography


THE North Korean People's Army (NKPA) invasion of the Republic of Korea (ROK) on 25 June 1950 found the US armed forces in a deplorable condition with little conventional capability.

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The newly established United States Air Force had spent most of its limited budget on strategic nuclear systems, neglecting the tactical air forces.

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The Far East Air Force (FEAF), based in Japan, and its Fifth Air Force had conducted few joint exercises to practice air-ground coordination with the Eighth US Army in Korea (EUSAK).

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Within a month the NKPA drove the United Nations (UN) forces to a small perimeter around the port of Pusan. Despite the unprepared condition of the tactical air forces, air power prevented disaster and complete defeat of the UN forces during the initial NKPA invasion. Lt Gen Walton H. Walker, the commander of EUSAK at the start of the war, stated,

"If it had not been for the air support we received from the Fifth Air Force, we should not have been able to stay in Korea."3

While the USAF was a major factor in helping to ensure the independence of South Korea, there were numerous errors committed by the US forces, including the Air Force, that resulted in ineffective application of air power.

June 25, 1950 1200

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A message ninety minutes later gave confirmation. General MacArthur immediately informed Washington and, within a few hours, sent the first comprehensive situation report on the Korean fighting. [04-16]

As the news from Korea worsened later that first day, General MacArthur warned Washington officials, "Enemy effort serious in strength and strategic intent and is undisguised act of war subject to United Nations censure." But he hardly realized how strong it was. His situation report showed only three North Korean divisions along the entire border. [04-17]

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American Ambassador to Korea Muccio conferred with President Rhee, who said that the ROK Army would be out of ammunition within ten days. Muccio quickly cabled MacArthur for replenishment.

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The Ambassador had already directed the acting chief of KMAG, Colonel Wright, to request an immediate shipment of ammunition for 105-mm. howitzers, 60-mm. mortars, and .30-caliber carbines. [04-18]

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Before the day was out, [6/25] General MacArthur ordered General Walker to load the USNS Sergeant George D. Keathley (T-APC-117), then in Yokohama Harbor, with 105,000 rounds of 105-mm. ammunition and 265,000 rounds of 81-mm. mortar, 89,000 rounds of 60-mm. mortar, and 2,480,000 rounds of .30-caliber carbine ammunition. He wanted the Keathley to reach Pusan no later than 1 July. He directed FEAF and COMNAVFE to protect the Keathley en route and during cargo discharge. In his information report to the Department of the Army, MacArthur said that he intended

"to supply ROK all needed supplies as long as they show ability to use same." [04-19]

These actions MacArthur took independently. He received no authority from the JCS to supply the ROK until the following day, at 1330, 26 June. {this appears to be incorrect}

June 25, 1950 1200

biography

A message ninety minutes later gave confirmation. General MacArthur immediately informed Washington and, within a few hours, sent the first comprehensive situation report on the Korean fighting. [04-16]

As the news from Korea worsened later that first day, General MacArthur warned Washington officials, "Enemy effort serious in strength and strategic intent and is undisguised act of war subject to United Nations censure." But he hardly realized how strong it was. His situation report showed only three North Korean divisions along the entire border. [04-17]

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American Ambassador to Korea Muccio conferred with President Rhee, who said that the ROK Army would be out of ammunition within ten days. Muccio quickly cabled MacArthur for replenishment.

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The Ambassador had already directed the acting chief of KMAG, Colonel Wright, to request an immediate shipment of ammunition for 105-mm. howitzers, 60-mm. mortars, and .30-caliber carbines. [04-18]

biography

Before the day was out, [6/25] General MacArthur ordered General Walker to load the USNS Sergeant George D. Keathley (T-APC-117), then in Yokohama Harbor, with 105,000 rounds of 105-mm. ammunition and 265,000 rounds of 81-mm. mortar, 89,000 rounds of 60-mm. mortar, and 2,480,000 rounds of .30-caliber carbine ammunition. He wanted the Keathley to reach Pusan no later than 1 July. He directed FEAF and COMNAVFE to protect the Keathley en route and during cargo discharge. In his information report to the Department of the Army, MacArthur said that he intended

"to supply ROK all needed supplies as long as they show ability to use same." [04-19]

These actions MacArthur took independently. He received no authority from the JCS to supply the ROK until the following day, at 1330, 26 June. {this appears to be incorrect}

July 26, 1950

Johnnie Walker had a favor to ask of Ned Moore. Walker's son, Sam, was arriving from the 82nd Airborne and needed a job. The older Walker had begun his career with the Chicks and apparently wanted Sam to carry on the family tradition. Would Moore take him?


"What kind of strings are you keeping on him?" Moore asked.


"Not a goddamned one," Walker replied. "He's just another infantry officer."
Moore took on this big responsibility, naming young Sam Walker commander of C Company in the 1/19. He remembered that Sam was "one of about fifteen kids in the regiment whose fathers had been my bosses."



As he set up his blocking position at Chinju, Ned Moore was simultaneously reorganizing and trying to re-man the decimated 19th. He had no exec; that slot was being held open for the wounded Chan Chandler, who was expected to return.

Meanwhile, the S-3, Ed Logan, was filling in as exec.

West Pointer (1942) Elliott C. Cutler, Jr., a veteran of the ETO, replaced Logan as S-3.

The 1/19 (down to about 300 men) was now temporarily commanded by Robert L. Rhea, forty.

Tom McGrail had reverted to command of the 2/19 (about 300 men).

Despite the heavy losses sustained among the junior officers, Moore found a few good, strong combat leaders still in place - for example, Mike Barszcz.[6-67]

 

Lt. Col. Harold W. Mott commanded the 2/29.[6-68] [to 3rd Bn 19th]

27 July 1950

wounded