|Edwin Anderson Walker|
Colonel Edwin A. Walker
November 10, 1909 |
Center Point, Kerr County, Texas, USA
October 31, 1993 (aged 83) |
|Allegiance||22x20px United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Army seal United States Army|
|Years of service||1931 - 1961|
|Rank||35px Major General|
|Commands held||20px 24th Infantry Division|
World War II|
Major General Edwin Anderson Walker, sometimes known as Ted Walker (November 10, 1909 – October 31, 1993), was a United States Army officer who fought in World War II and the Korean War, reaching the rank of Major General. He was known for his ultra-conservative political views and was criticized by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower for promoting a personal political stand while in uniform. He resigned his commission after being publicly and formally admonished by President John F. Kennedy (JFK) for insulting Eleanor Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman in print. He was an attempted assassination target of Lee Harvey Oswald on April 10, 1963. From the period of the JFK assassination forward, General Walker wrote and spoke publicly about his belief that the same assassin who killed JFK also shot at him in the "April Crime".
Early life and military career[edit | edit source]
Walker was born in Center Point in Kerr County in the Texas Hill Country. He graduated in 1927 from the New Mexico Military Institute. He then attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, 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.
Next Walker became the commander of the Arkansas Military District in Little Rock, Arkansas. During his years in Arkansas, he implemented an order from President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1957 to quell civil disturbances during the desegregation of Central High School. Osro Cobb, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, recalls that Walker "made it clear from the outset ... that he would do any and everything necessary to see that the black students attended Central High School as ordered by the federal court ... he would arrange protection for them and their families, if necessary, and also supervise their transportation to and from the school for their safety."
At the same time, however, Walker repeatedly protested to President Eisenhower that using Federal Troops to enforce racial integration over States' Rights was against his own conscience. So, although Walker obeyed orders and successfully integrated Little Rock High, he also turned more politically toward right-wing literature and radio programs, including that of segregationist preacher, Reverend Billy James Hargis, and H.L. Hunt, whose right-wing radio program, Life Line was the launching platform for Dan Smoot. The main teaching of all these rightists in 1957-1959 was the same as that of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy, i.e. that Communists controlled key portions of the US Government and the United Nations.
In 1959, General Walker met right-wing publisher, Robert Welch who had just started up his John Birch Society with his principal belief that President Eisenhower was in reality a Communist. This revelation shocked General Walker, who took it to heart, because it harmonized with the segregationist preaching of Reverend Billy James Hargis, that the Civil Rights Movement for racial equality in America was a Communist plot.
Therefore, on 4 August 1959, General Walker submitted his resignation to the US Army. President Eisenhower denied Walker's request for resignation on 4 September 1959, and instead offered General Walker a command over more than 10,000 Troops in Augsburg, Germany, specifically over the 24th Infantry Division. Walker promptly accepted that command, and just as promptly initiated plans to promote his Pro-Blue indoctrination program which included a reading list of materials from Billy James Hargis and the John Birch Society.
The Pro-Blue program was a mandatory anti-Communist indoctrination program for troops. It's name, said Walker, was intended to suggest 'Anti-Red', (where the Free World troops were colored blue on maps)
Throughout 1960, the Pro-Blue program was very successful in Germany, although General Walker also came into hostile conflict with a US Army newspaper there named the Overseas Weekly. Their conflict blew up every few months, until on 16 April 1961 the Overseas Weekly published a front page scandal about General Walker, accusing him of brainwashing his troops with John Birch Society materials, supplied to him by evangelist Billy James Hargis.
Because the John Birch Society regularly printed that all US Presidents from FDR forward had been Communists, this was perceived as too politically controversial for a US General to advocate. Walker was quoted by 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 to vote in the forthcoming USA election by using the Conservative Voting Index which had a bias toward the Republicans.
The very next day, on 17 April 1961 General Walker was relieved from his command by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara 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 chose a second time to resign from the Army on 2 November 1961. In protest, and choosing a political career over his 30-year military career, Walker did not retire but resigned his post, thereby voluntarily forfeiting his officer's pension. This time the US President accepted his resignation.
Walker said: "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."
Political career[edit | edit source]
As a civilian in December 1961, Walker embarked on a career of right-wing political speeches, along with segregationist evangelist Billy James Hargis. Walker enjoyed enthusiastic crowds all over the United States, who frequently gave him a dozen standing ovations at every speech. His message of anti-Communism was popular, but because he also pressed the McCarthyist belief that Communists were inside the United States government, he mainly attracted the extremists among the American right-wing. Yet his home base was Dallas, Texas, then considered a conservative city. Walker received considerable support from the citizens of Dallas, in particular from oil billionaire and right-wing publisher, H.L. Hunt, who supported Walker's first election campaign for governor of Texas.
In February 1962, Walker entered the race but finished last among six candidates in a Democratic primary election that was won in a runoff election by John B. Connally, Jr., the choice of Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. 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.
Though he had followed military orders to compel the desegregation of Central High School in Little Rock, 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 at Oxford, Mississippi. On 26 September 1962 ex-General Edwin Walker went on several radio stations to broadcast this message:
Mississippi: It is time to move. We have talked, listened and been pushed around far too much by the anti-Christ Supreme Court! Rise...to a stand beside Governor Ross Barnett at Jackson, Mississippi! Now is the time to be heard! Thousands strong from every State in the Union! Rally to the cause of freedom! The Battle Cry of the Republic! Barnett yes! Castro no! Bring your flag, your tent and your skillet. It's now or never! The time is when the President of the United States commits or uses any troops, Federal or State. in Mississippi! The last time in such a situation I was on the wrong side. That was in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957-1958. This time -- out of uniform -- I am on the right side! I will be there! 
This is his televised public statement on 29 September 1962:
This is Edwin A. Walker. I am in Mississippi beside Governor 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 hundreds were wounded, 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. He was temporarily held in a mental institution on orders from President Kennedy's brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. RFK demanded that Walker receive a 90-day psychiatric examination.
However, the Attorney General's decision was promptly challenged by famous psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, who insisted that psychiatry must never become a tool of political rivalry. The ACLU joined Thomas Szasz in a protest against the Attorney General, completing this coalition of liberal and right-wing leaders. The Attorney General had to back down, and Walker spent only five days in the asylum.
Walker posted bond and returned home to Dallas, where he was greeted by a crowd of some two hundred 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.
Assassination attempt[edit | edit source]
According to the Warren Commission, around this time, Walker got Lee Harvey Oswald's attention. Oswald's wife, Marina Oswald, said that 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." 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."
According to the Warren Commission, and to the later HSCA Oswald began to put Walker under surveillance, taking pictures of Walker's Dallas home on the weekend of March 9–10. Furthermore, people involved with Oswald in those and prior weeks admitted to have been criticizing General Walker with Lee Harvey Oswald included Dallas engineer, Michael Paine, oil geologist, George De Mohrenschildt and oil engineer, Volkmar Schmidt.
Oswald planned the assassination for April 10. Oswald's wife Marina said that he chose a Wednesday evening because the neighborhood would be relatively crowded because of services in a church adjacent to Walker's home, and 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. The bullet struck the wooden frame of the window, which deflected its path. Walker was injured in the forearm by fragments.
According to Dallas Police Department records, neighbors of Walker witnessed two men at the scene of the crime, running into a car and speeding away. To the end of his life, Walker believed that there was another man serving as Oswald's accomplice, and he spent decades attempting to learn the identity of that accomplice.
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?"
Before the Kennedy assassination, Dallas police had no suspects in the Walker shooting, but Oswald's involvement was suspected within hours of his arrest following the assassination. (The note Oswald left for Marina on the night of the attempt was not found until early December 1963.) 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.
Unsatisfied with the Dallas Police investigation into the shooting, Walker hired a private investigator and Walker himself interviewed witnesses. In his testimony before the Warren Commission, Walker accused the Commission and the FBI of blocking his access to a man named Walter Kirk Coleman. Colman was a neighbor of Walker who, according to Dallas Police Department records, witnessed two men at the scene of the crime, getting into a car and speeding away. Walker also testified in a letter to the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) that the bullet that the committee called the "Walker bullet" was not the bullet that almost killed him: "It is not the bullet that was fired at me and taken out of my house by the Dallas City Police on April 10, 1963. The bullet you have was not gotten from me or taken out of my house by anyone at anytime."
Associated Press v. Walker[edit | edit source]
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." Several newspapers were named in the lawsuit, and Walker and his lawyers stood to win up to $30 million dollars if they won every suit.
A Texas trial court in 1964 found the statements false and defamatory. At this point Walker and his lawyers had won over $3 million in law suits.
The Associated Press appealed the decision, as Associated Press v. Walker, all the way to the United States Supreme Court, and in 1967 the Supreme 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.
It may be noteworthy that as a member of the John Birch Society, Edwin Walker, from 1962 through 1967, displayed a full-size billboard on his front lawn with the standard John Birch Society slogan, Impeach Earl Warren. The reason for this slogan was the fact that Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren was a key figure in the decision of Brown v. Board of Education which mandated the racial integration of all U.S. Public Schools. It is ironic that the Supreme Court judge who heard Walker's case against the Associated Press was none other than Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren. Walker and his lawyers walked away with nothing.
Later life[edit | edit source]
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 sixty-six, 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.
Walker died of lung cancer at his home in Dallas in 1993.
Culture[edit | edit source]
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; in fact, 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 was usually seen as abrasive and strident.
When Walker testified before Mississippi U.S. Senator John Stennis's 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."
Walker is portrayed by Cameron Mitchell as a supporting character in the 1985 film Prince Jack. The movie includes a dramatization from Walker's perspective of Lee Harvey Oswald's attempt to shoot him.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- Handbook of Texas: "Center Point, Texas." Retrieved March 16, 2007.
- Osro Cobb, Osro Cobb of Arkansas: Memoris of Historical Significance, Carol Griffee, ed. (Little Rock, Arkansas: Rose Publishing Company, 1989), p. 238
- p. 105 Schoenwald, Jonathan M. A Time for Choosing: The Rise of American Conservatism Oxford University Press 2001
- Scott, Peter Dale. Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1993), pp. 34, 50. ISBN 0-520-20519-7
- "I Must Be Free . . .," Time, November 10, 1961.
- Elections of Texas Governors, 1845–2006.
- "Edwin A. Walker and the Right Wing in Dallas," Chris Cravens, 1993, p. 120
- "Walker Demands a 'Vocal Protest,'" New York Times, September 30, 1962, p. 69.
- Summers, Anthony. Not in Your Lifetime, (New York: Marlowe & Company, 1998), p. 162. ISBN 1-56924-739-0
- "Edwin A. Walker and the Right Wing in Dallas," Chris Cravens, 1993, p. 130
- "Crowd Welcomes Ex-Gen. Walker's Return to Dallas," Dallas Morning News, October 8, 1962, sec. 1, p. 1.
- The Strange Case of Maj. Gen. Edwin A. Walker.
- Archie Vernon Huff, Greenville: the history of the city and county in the South Carolina Piedmont, Columbia: U South Carolina P, 1995, p. 404.
- Radio debate between Oswald and anti-Castro activists Ed Butler and Carlos Bringuier at station WDSU in New Orleans, August 21, 1963.
- Warren Commission Hearings, vol. 1, p. 16, Testimony of Mrs. Lee Harvey Oswald.
- "Judge Dismisses Walker Charges," Dallas Morning News, January 22, 1963, sec. 1, p. 1.
- Warren Commission Hearings, vol. 16, p. 511, CE 135, Mail-order coupon in name of A.J. Hidell.
- "Hargis Says Walker Will Join in Tour," Dallas Morning News, February 14, 1963, sec. 1, p. 16. "Walker Preparing for Crusade," Dallas Morning News, February 17, 1963, sec. 1, p. 16. "Pickets Protest Talks Given by Hargis, Walker," Dallas Morning News, March 28, 1963, sec. 4, p. 18.
- Dallas Times Herald, March 6, 1963.
- Warren Commission Hearings, vol. 17, p. 635, CE 773, Photograph of a mail order for a rifle in the name "A. Hidell," and the envelope in which the order was sent.
- Construction work seen in one of the photos was determined by the supervisor to have been in that state of completion on March 9–10. Warren Commission Hearings, vol. 22, p. 585, CE 1351, FBI Report, Dallas, Tex., dated May 22, 1964, reflecting investigation concerning photographs of the residence of Maj. Gen. Edwin A. Walker.
- A photocopy of Oswald's note, in Russian. Retrieved March 16, 2007.
- Testimony of Marina Oswald Porter, HSCA Hearings, vol. II, p. 232.
- "HSCA Final Report: I. Findings - A. Lee Harvey Oswald Fired Three Shots..." (PDF). http://www.history-matters.com/archive/jfk/hsca/report/pdf/HSCA_Report_1A_LHO.pdf. Retrieved 2010-09-17.
- "Officials Recall Sniper Shooting at Walker Home", Dallas Morning News, November 23, 1963, sec. 1, p. 15.
- Warren Commission Hearings, vol. 23, p. 392–393, CE 1785, Secret Service report dated December 5, 1963, on questioning of Marina Oswald about note Oswald wrote before he attempted to kill General Walker.
- Testimony of Ruth Hyde Paine, Warren Commission Hearings, vol. 9, p. 393–394.
- "Oswald Notes Reported Left Before Walker Was Shot At", Dallas Morning News, December 31, 1963, sec. 1, p. 6.
- Testimony of Dr. Vincent P. Guinn, HSCA Hearings, vol. I, p. 502.
- Warren Commission Hearings, vol. 20, p. 271, Undated letter from Lee Harvey Oswald to Arnold S. Johnson, with envelope postmarked November 1, 1963. "Rally Talk Scheduled by Walker," Dallas Morning News, October 23, 1963, sec. 1, p. 7. "Walker Says U.S. Main Battleground," Dallas Morning News, October 24, 1963, sec. 4, p. 1.
- Associated Press v. Walker, 393 S.W.2d 671, 674 (1965).
- "The General v. The Cub", Time, June 26, 1964.
- Associated Press v. Walker, 389 U.S. 28 (1967).
- Warren Weaver, Jr., "Pension Restored for Gen. Walker", The New York Times, July 24, 1983, p. 17.
- "General Walker Faces Sex Charge: Right-Wing Figure Accused in Dallas of Lewdness", United Press International, New York Times, July 9, 1976, p. 84.
- "Catch as Catch Can," Time, July 26, 1976.
- "Trial for Walker Routinely Passed", Dallas Morning News, September 15, 1976, p. D4.
- "Police Arrest Retired General for Lewdness," Dallas Morning News, March 17, 1977, p. B18.
- "General Walker Free on Bond", New York Times, March 18, 1977, p. 8.
- "Judge Convicts, Fines Walker", Dallas Morning News, May 23, 1977, p. A5.
- Eric Pace, "Gen. Edwin Walker, 83, Is Dead; Promoted Rightist Causes in 60's", New York Times, November 2, 1993, p. B-10.
- The presidents we imagine: two centuries of White House fictions ... - Page 170
- National review: Volume 12 books.google.comWilliam Frank Buckley - 1962 - Snippet view Walker, the very model of an old-fashioned Major General, tough, ramrod-stiff and always on the offensive, ... From this point on, throughout the afternoon and the following day, Walker was all but incoherent. ...
- National Review: Volume 12 books.google.comWilliam Frank Buckley - 1962 - Snippet view Walker, the very model of an old-fashioned Major General, tough, ramrod-stiff and always on the offensive, ... From this point on, throughout the afternoon and the following day, Walker was all but incoherent. ...
- America's uncivil wars: the Sixties era from Elvis to the fall of ... - Page 68
[edit | edit source]
- Edwin Walker biography page
- The Strange Case of Maj. Gen. Edwin A. Walker
- The Handbook of Texas Online: Walker, Edwin A.