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Major General Edwin Anderson Walker
November 10, 1909 – October 31, 1993
Edwin "Ted" Walker was born in Center Point, Texas and graduated from the New Mexico Military Institute in 1927. He then attended the United States Military Academy, where he graduated in 1931. During World War II, Walker commanded a subunit of the Canadian-American First Special Service Force in the invasion of Anzio, Italy in January 1944. In August 1944, Walker succeeded Robert T. Frederick as the unit's commanding officer. The FSSF landed on the Hyeres Islands off of the French Riviera, taking out a strong German garrison.
Walker again saw combat in the Korean War, commanding the Third Infantry Division's Seventh Infantry and was senior advisor to the First Korean Corps. He next became the commander of the Arkansas Military district in Little Rock, Arkansas. During his years in Arkansas, he implemented an order from President Eisenhower in 1957 to quell civil disturbances during the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock.
In 1959, General Walker was sent to Germany to command the 24th Infantry Division. In 1961, however, he became involved in controversy. Walker initiated an anti-communist indoctrination program for troops called "Pro Blue" (due to Free World troops being coloured blue on maps. and was accused of distributing right-wing literature from the John Birch Society to the soldiers of his division. He was also quoted by a newspaper, the Overseas Weekly, as saying that Harry S. Truman, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Dean Acheson were "definitely pink." Additionally, a number of soldiers had complained that Walker was instructing them as to whom to cast their votes for in the next election, with all of the candidates the General named being arch-conservative Republicans. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara relieved Walker of his command, while an inquiry was conducted, and in October Walker was reassigned to Hawaii to become assistant chief of staff for training and operations in the Pacific. Instead, Walker resigned from the Army on November 2, 1961. Said Walker: "It will be my purpose now, as a civilian, to attempt to do what I have found it no longer possible to do in uniform."
In February 1962, Walker entered the race for Governor of Texas, but finished last among six candidates in a Democratic primary election that was won in a runoff election by John B. Connally, Jr. Other contenders were the sitting Governor Price Daniel, highway commissioner Marshall Formby of Plainview, Attorney General Will Wilson, and Houston lawyer Don Yarborough, the favorite of liberals and organized labor. After winning the nomination in a close vote over Yarborough, Connally defeated Republican Jack Cox, an oil equipment executive, also from Houston, who ran stronger than past nominees of his party.
Walker organized protests in September 1962 against the use of federal troops to enforce the enrollment of African-American James Meredith at the racially segregated University of Mississippi. His public statement on September 29:
This is Edwin A. Walker. I am in Mississippi beside Gov. Ross Barnett. I call for a national protest against the conspiracy from within. Rally to the cause of freedom in righteous indignation, violent vocal protest, and bitter silence under the flag of Mississippi at the use of Federal troops. This today is a disgrace to the nation in 'dire peril,' a disgrace beyond the capacity of anyone except its enemies. This is the conspiracy of the crucifixion by anti-Christ conspirators of the Supreme Court in their denial of prayer and their betrayal of a nation.
After a violent, 15-hour riot broke out on the campus, on September 30, in which two people were killed and six federal marshals were shot, Walker was arrested on four federal charges, including sedition and insurrection against the United States. Walker posted bond and returned home to Dallas, where he was greeted by a crowd of 200 supporters. After a federal grand jury adjourned in January 1963 without indicting him, the charges were dropped. Because the dismissal of the charges was without prejudice, the charges could have been reinstated within five years.
That same year Bob Jones University invited Walker to speak to its student body.
Around this time, Walker got Lee Harvey Oswald's attention. Oswald, a self-proclaimed Marxist, considered Walker a "fascist" and the leader of a "fascist organization." A front page story on Walker in the October 7, 1962, issue of the Worker, a Communist Party newspaper to which Oswald subscribed, warned "the Kennedy administration and the American people of the need for action against [Walker] and his allies." On October 8, Oswald quit his job and moved to Dallas, with no explanation. Five days after the front page news on January 22, 1963 that Walker's federal charges had been dropped, Oswald ordered a revolver by mail, using the alias "A.J. Hidell."
In February 1963, Walker was making news by joining forces with evangelist Billy James Hargis in an anti-communist tour called "Operation Midnight Ride". In a speech Walker made on March 5, reported in the Dallas Times Herald, he called on the United States military to "liquidate the scourge that has descended upon the island of Cuba." Seven days later, Oswald ordered by mail a Carcano rifle, using the alias "A. Hidell."
Oswald began to put Walker under surveillance, taking pictures of Walker's Dallas home on the weekend of March 9–10. He planned the assassination for April 10, ten days after he was fired from the photography firm where he worked. He told his wife later that he chose a Wednesday evening because the neighborhood would be relatively crowded because of services in a church adjacent to Walker's home; he would not stand out and could mingle with the crowds if necessary to make his escape. He left a note in Russian for his wife Marina with instructions should he be caught. Walker was sitting at a desk in his dining room when Oswald fired at him from less than a hundred feet (30 m) away. Walker survived only because the bullet struck the wooden frame of the window, which deflected its path. However, he was injured in the forearm by fragments.
At the time, authorities had no idea who attempted to kill Walker. A police detective, D.E. McElroy, commented that "Whoever shot at the general was playing for keeps. The sniper wasn't trying to scare him. He was shooting to kill."
Marina Oswald stated later that she had seen Oswald burn most of his plans in the bathtub, though she hid the note he left her in a cookbook, with the intention of bringing it to the police should Oswald again attempt to kill Walker or anyone else. Marina later quoted her husband as saying, "Well, what would you say if somebody got rid of Hitler at the right time? So if you don't know about General Walker, how can you speak up on his behalf?" Oswald's involvement in the attempt on Walker's life was suspected within hours of his arrest on November 22, 1963, following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. But police thought that they had no evidence of Oswald's involvement in the Walker attempt, until early December 1963, when the note was found and turned over to authorities, at which time Marina Oswald confessed what she knew of the Walker shooting. The bullet was too badly damaged to run conclusive ballistics tests, but neutron activation tests later determined that it was "extremely likely" the bullet was a Carcano bullet manufactured by the Western Cartridge Company, the same ammunition used in the Kennedy assassination.
Oswald later wrote to Arnold Johnson of the Communist Party, U.S.A., that on the evening of October 23, 1963 he had attended an "ultra right" meeting headed by Gen. Edwin A. Walker.
Angered by negative publicity he was receiving for his conservative political views, Walker began to file libel lawsuits against various media outlets. One of these suits was in response to coverage of his participation in the University of Mississippi riot, specifically that he had "led a charge of students against federal marshals" and that he had "assumed command of the crowd." A Texas trial court in 1964 found the statements false and defamatory. The decision was appealed, as Associated Press v. Walker, all the way to the United States Supreme Court, but the Court ruled against Walker and found that although the statements may have been false, the Associated Press was not guilty of reckless disregard in their reporting about Walker. The Court, which had previously said that public officials could not recover damages unless they could prove actual malice, extended this to public figures as well.
By resigning instead of retiring, Walker was unable to draw a pension from the Army. He made statements at the time to the Dallas Morning News that he had "refused" to take his pension. However, he had made several previous requests for his pension dating back to 1973. The Army restored his pension rights in 1982.
Walker, then 66, was arrested on June 23, 1976 for public lewdness in a restroom at a Dallas park and accused of fondling an undercover policeman. He was arrested again in Dallas for public lewdness on March 16, 1977. He pled no contest to one of the two misdemeanor charges, was given a suspended, 30-day jail sentence, and fined $1,000.
He died of lung cancer at his home in Dallas in 1993.
Walker (along with Air Force General Curtis LeMay) was cited as inspiration for the Air Force General James Mattoon Scott character in the film Seven Days in May, although Walker himself is mentioned by name in the film. While General Scott is portrayed by Burt Lancaster as smooth and formidable in the film, Walker in fact was usually seen as abrasive and strident. A comparison can be seen in the film clips with Lancaster as Mattoon at against Walker as himself.
When Walker testified before Mississippi Senator John Stennis' subcommittee investigating "the muzzling of the military" in 1962, Walker testified,
"It is evident that the real control apparatus will not tolerate militant anti-communist leadership in a division commander. The real control apparatus can be identified by the effects of what it is doing in the Congo, what it did in Korea..."
Alaskan Senator Bob Bartlett then asked,
"General, are you saying that there exists in this country - in positions of ultimate leadership - a group of sinister men, anti-American, willing and wanting to sell this country out? Is that the correct inference?"
Walker then replied,
"That is correct; yes, sir."
It was said that William F. Buckley, Jr. gave up on Walker as a leader of the Right in this period.
Walker is also cited as inspiration for General Jack D. Ripper in Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove.
November 2, 1993
Gen. Edwin Walker, 83, Is Dead; Promoted Rightist Causes in 60's
By ERIC PACE
Maj. Gen. Edwin A. Walker, whose right-wing political activities led to an official rebuke and his resignation from the Army in 1961, died on Sunday at his home in Dallas. He was 83.
The cause was lung disease, the Dallas County medical examiner's office said in a report yesterday.
General Walker, a lanky, much-decorated Texan who led combat units in World War II and the Korean War, ended his 30-year Army career because, he said, he "could no longer serve in uniform and be a collaborator with the release of United States sovereignty to the United Nations."
On April 10, 1963, a sniper fired at him as he sat at his desk in his home. The bullet missed his head by about an inch.
In 1964, a commission headed by Chief Justice Earl Warren to investigate the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, identified the assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, as the same man who had fired at General Walker.
The Warren Commission, relying on testimony from Oswald's widow, Marina, said Oswald tried to kill the general because he was "an extremist," and it cited the incident as evidence of Oswald's capacity for violence.
The issue that led to General Walker's resignation began in April 1961 when Overseas Weekly, a privately owned newspaper circulated among members of the armed forces overseas, accused the general of using an Army information program to subject his troops to "a propaganda barrage" that extolled the John Birch Society. General Walker was then commanding the 24th Infantry Division, based in West Germany.
The newspaper also reported that the general had publicly asserted that former President Harry S. Truman, Eleanor Roosevelt and former Secretary of State Dean Acheson were "definitely pink."
The report attracted widespread attention, and President Kennedy ordered an investigation into the matter. The general was relieved of his command while the inquiry was conducted.
In June 1961, the Army said the investigation showed that the general's information program was "not attributable to any program of the John Birch Society." But it admonished the general "for taking injudicious actions and for making derogatory public statements about prominent Americans."
He resigned on Nov. 2, 1961, contending that he "must be free from the power of little men who, in the name of my country, punish loyal service to it."
By resigning rather than retiring, he passed up retirement pay that at the time would have amounted to $12,000 a year. To accept retirement benefits, he said, "would be a compromise with my principles."
Two decades later, the Army quietly restored his pension rights, and in 1982 he began getting a major general's pension of $45,120 a year. In granting the pension, the Army called him "a truly dedicated American soldier who firmly believed that insufficient action was being taken within the military establishment to combat the threat of Communism." Critic of Kennedy
After leaving the Army in 1961, General Walker was outspoken in his criticism of the Kennedy Administration. He also became active in segregationist resistance efforts in the South and said civil rights demonstrations in Washington and in Austin, Tex., were "pro-Kennedy, pro-Communist and pro-Socialist."
He was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor of Texas in 1962, but finished last in a primary with five other candidates.
In October 1962, after Federal marshals had put down riots at the University of Mississippi and forced the university to admit James H. Meredith, a black student, General Walker was arrested on a Federal warrant charging him with insurrection and seditious conspiracy. But a Federal grand jury failed to indict him and the charges were dropped.
In 1967, the Supreme Court threw out a $500,000 libel judgment he had won against The Associated Press after the news agency reported that he had "led a charge of students against Federal marshals" deployed at the university to guard Mr. Meredith. The Court said public figures were the same as public officials and therefore the media deserved protection for mistakes made without malice.
On June 23, 1976, General Walker was arrested on a charge of public lewdness in a restroom at a Dallas park. The arresting police officer said the general made sexual advances. The general later pleaded no contest and was fined $1,000 and court costs. The case was widely reported in the news media.
Edwin Anderson Walker was born on Nov. 10, 1909, in Center Point, Tex. He graduated from the New Mexico Military Institute in 1927 and began his Army career as a lieutenant of artillery after graduating from the United States Military Academy in 1931.
In World War II, he led a special force of Americans and Canadians in the Aleutians, Italy and France. The unit, the Special Service Force, was trained for airborne, amphibious, mountain and ski operations; it fought at the Anzio beachhead in Italy and in the invasion of southern France.
He later commanded the 417th Infantry Regiment, attached to the Third Army, and at V-E Day he was commanding a special task unit in Oslo.
In the Korean War, he commanded the Third Infantry Division's Seventh Regiment and was senior adviser to the First Korean Corps. He later served as military adviser to Chiang Kai-shek of Nationalist China.
In 1957, as commander of the Arkansas military district, General Walker led the troops ordered to Little Rock by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to quell disturbances resulting from the integration of public schools there.
General Walker's decorations included the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with cluster and the Legion of Merit, as well as honors from France, Britain, Norway and South Korea.
Survivors include a nephew, George Walker.