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The Strange Case of Maj. Gen. Edwin A. Walker


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Originally complied and posted by Joe Knapp.

General Edwin A. Walker is known to most JFK assassination buffs as

the man whom Oswald allegedly shot at in April, 1963. The general's

right-wing connections are often noted, as is the fact that he was

forced out of his command by the Kennedy administration for his

political indoctrination of his troops. His activities during the

race riots in Oxford, Mississippi in 1962 are also often mentioned,

when he was arrested on four federal charges including insurrection.

His public statement was as follows:

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 feedom 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.

[source NYT, 9/30/62]

The Army ordered General Walker to undergo psychiatric testing.

The general's case is stange indeed. But another fact, not often mentioned,

makes his activities in 1961-3 even stranger. Going back to 1957, we find

him in charge of *enforcing* the desegregation order in Little Rock,

Arkansas! His public statements on the matter were limited to exhorting

the public to uphold the will of the courts and desegregate peacefully.

The following article details his biography up to that time.

============================================================================

New York Times, September 25, 1957, page 18

HE GUARDS THE PEACE

Edwin Anderson Walker

LITTLE ROCK, Sept. 24 -- Maj. Gen. Edwin Anderson Walker, who will be

responsible for maintaining peace in Little Rock, was described by staff

officers today as "tough, but fair." A tall, lean-visaged Texan,

General Walker came to Little Rock only seven weeks ago as commander of

the Arkansas Military District. He is still a stranger to the city.

Today, General Walker was at his desk in a downtown office building at

7 A.M. He had not yet received formal orders to take over the Arkansas

National Guard, but he knew what was coming. Already orders carrying

his signature were being processed for the deployment of National Guard

units. He will command a combined force of regulars and Federalized

Guardsmen.

He stands 6 feet 3 inches in height. He is a bachelor and has been

considered a prize for hostesses wherever he has been stationed.

He was born in Center Point, Texas, on Nov. 10, 1909.

General Walker's favorite expression is "check," a word he snaps to

indicate a mission has been accomplished or that he understands his

orders.

As a member of the Special Services group, he was required to be a

paratrooper. At his test, he approached a subordinate and asked:

"How do you put this thing on?"

He received a fast five-minute briefing and climbed into an airplane.

He jumped, landed safe and snapped to the test officer: "Check."

General Walker is a combat officer. He has seen action in World War II

and in Korea. He has carried out a number of unusual and hazardous

assignments, particularly during World War II.

He started his military career as an artillery officer after he

graduated from West Point in 1931. But he switched to commando

operations during the war and led a special force of Canadians and

Americans, in Italy and in France.

This outfit, trained for airborne, amphibious, mountain and ski

operations, was called the Special Services Force.

General Walker led the Third Regiment, First Special Service Force,

in its initial operation at Kiska during the Aleutians campaign. When

the commandos were transferred to the Italian campaign, General Walker

led the first Special Service Force in tough mountain fighting up the

Italian peninsula and at Anzio beachhead.

A Surprise Landing

In August, 1944, his men made a surprise landing on the Hyeres Islands

off the French Riviera and killed or captured a strong German garrison

that could have jeopardized the Seventh Army landings on the mainland

near by.

With the Hyeres occupied, his troops rejoined the main invasion force

and moved up the Rhone Valley. Toward the end of the war he was detached

from the commandos and placed in command of the 417 Infantry Regiment,

a separate force attached to the Third Army. At V-E Day he was commanding

a special task unit in Oslo.

Returning to the United States in January, 1946, General Walker served as

assistant director of the combined arms department, Field Artillery

School, Fort Sill, Okla. He was in charge of he Greek desk at the

Pentagon during the Greek civil war and made an official visit to Greece

and Turkey.

During the Korean War, General Walker commanded the Seventh Regiment

of the Third Infantry Division and later was senior adviser to

Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. His last assignment before coming to

Little Rock was as commanding general at the Twenty-fifth Artillery

Division in Hawaii.

He holds the Silver Star and the Bronze Star with oak leaf cluster.

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David

Ever since reading the Warren Report (over a decade ago) I have attempted to understand the man and recreate the events in the life of Edwin Walker. I have come to refer to him as a Forrest Gump type of character who, when researched, seems to appear as a footnote to many historical events of the 20th Century. I have repeatedly visited his home town and had numerous conversations with former comrades and neighbors in an attempt to understand a man that, discounting his far right activities of the 1960's, would, by any measure, be considered a GREAT American hero (in my opinion his Right Wing activity may have been a cover to gather intelligence).

In my opinion one of the greatest cover-ups of the Warren Report is the fact that Walker's life has been trivialized into a few events after 1961 while disregarding his life, career and associations from 1909 till 1961. In particular I find that his relationship with Maxwell Taylor is of great interest to the events surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Walker's travels, within his military career, are surpizing when you overlay the historical context of military intelligence, covert operations and international relations upon them. Starting from 1934 his military career becomes, to me, of unique interest for this forum.

Jim Root

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  • 6 years later...

David

Ever since reading the Warren Report (over a decade ago) I have attempted to understand the man and recreate the events in the life of Edwin Walker. I have come to refer to him as a Forrest Gump type of character who, when researched, seems to appear as a footnote to many historical events of the 20th Century. I have repeatedly visited his home town and had numerous conversations with former comrades and neighbors in an attempt to understand a man that, discounting his far right activities of the 1960's, would, by any measure, be considered a GREAT American hero (in my opinion his Right Wing activity may have been a cover to gather intelligence).

In my opinion one of the greatest cover-ups of the Warren Report is the fact that Walker's life has been trivialized into a few events after 1961 while disregarding his life, career and associations from 1909 till 1961. In particular I find that his relationship with Maxwell Taylor is of great interest to the events surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Walker's travels, within his military career, are surpizing when you overlay the historical context of military intelligence, covert operations and international relations upon them. Starting from 1934 his military career becomes, to me, of unique interest for this forum.

Jim Root

Jim, I agree that General Edwin Walker was a hero of WW2 and deserves our respect. His angry clash with the Kennedys in 1962 divided the country with regard to our opinion about Walker -- we became for or against Walker in extremes. But he was a hero, and I tend to believe that the treatment he received at the hands of Attorney General RFK in 1962 was political -- because there seems to be no other reason to have committed him to an insane asylum, even if he did play an active role in the riots of Ole Miss in 1962 (which he always denied).

That said - I believe this injustice that he suffered at the hands of the Kennedys in 1962 gave him a material motive to pursue a paramilitary-style justice in Dallas in 1963.

Walker was a suspect named by the Warren Commission in the affidavits of Dean Andrews, Jack Ruby and Frank Ellsworth. Later, Gerry Patrick Hemming and Harry Dean expressed suspicions. Walker was unusually influential - even powerful - in Dallas in 1963. As any other rightist in Dallas, he was outspoken against the United Nations and called for the impeachment of Earl Warren, but Walker did this with a full-size billboard on his front lawn.

Walker was a leader among the righists in Dallas. In early November, 1963, Adlai Stevenson, our UN representative, was battered by an angry mob in Dallas, because the night before Edwin Walker had whipped up the crowd with angry speeches against the United Nations. So, Edwin Walker wanted a role in politics - this seems very clear.

In fact, General Walker resigned from the military after a brilliant career; notice that he didn't retire with a pension; he resigned *without* a pension. That was a hasty act. Why would an intelligent man do that? It was probably a protest against President Eisenhower criticizing any military personnel for making political speeches. Walker wanted to enter politics - and he ran for Texas Governor - but he lost to Connally. So he supported himself by making rightist speeches around the country to larger and larger crowds. He had an adoring fan base.

It was in this context that Walker called for a massive march on Ole Miss to protest racial integration there. He had political ambitions, and he was not going to give up on his political drive. If he couldn't win office, then he would support somebody who could - either Goldwater or Wallace.

His clash with the Kennedys was political, and one can make a case that the Kennedys made it personal. If so, I cannot envision Edwin Walker backing down from a fight.

From the evidence I see, the former General Edwin Walker is my prime suspect for the crucial Dallas ground-crew leadership.

Best regards,

--Paul Trejo

<edit typos>

Edited by Paul Trejo
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  • 5 months later...

Ever since reading the Warren Report (over a decade ago) I have attempted to understand the man and recreate the events in the life of Edwin Walker. I have come to refer to him as a Forrest Gump type of character who, when researched, seems to appear as a footnote to many historical events of the 20th Century. I have repeatedly visited his home town and had numerous conversations with former comrades and neighbors in an attempt to understand a man that, discounting his far right activities of the 1960's, would, by any measure, be considered a GREAT American hero (in my opinion his Right Wing activity may have been a cover to gather intelligence).

In my opinion one of the greatest cover-ups of the Warren Report is the fact that Walker's life has been trivialized into a few events after 1961 while disregarding his life, career and associations from 1909 till 1961. In particular I find that his relationship with Maxwell Taylor is of great interest to the events surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Walker's travels, within his military career, are surpizing when you overlay the historical context of military intelligence, covert operations and international relations upon them. Starting from 1934 his military career becomes, to me, of unique interest for this forum.

Jim Root

Jim,

Since the last time I responded to your post, I completed a full semester of research into the life and times of Major General Edwin Walker, with an emphasis on 1960-1964. I now have a completely different portrait of Walker than I did last December.

For one thing, although General Walker claimed that he was innocent of inciting riots at Ole Miss in 1962, my research demonstrated to my satisfaction that he was guilty as sin. I interviewed an eye-witness at Ole Miss, namely, Reverend Duncan Gray (who is now Bishop Duncan Gray).

Bishop Gray told me personally that he confronted General Walker, knowing that the adult rioters had come in from several different states at the request of General Walker, and so Walker was widely considered the leader of the riots. He watched as Walker led students, and gave them instructions, advice, encouragement and so on. Bishop Gray pleaded with General Walker to stop the violence, and to send everybody home -- especially the majority of protesters that did not live on campus.

Not only did General Walker insult Reverend Gray for his troubles, but he encouraged the crowd to knock the Reverend down and beat him up!

When Walker climbed on the Confederate Statue to make a speech, Reverend Gray also climbed up and shouted to the crowd that "violence is not the way!" However, General Walker shouted out ot the crowd that this Episcopalian priest makes him "ashamed to be an Episcopalian!"

At this point the rioters pulled Reverend Gray down to the ground and began kicking him. A few friends rescued him from serious injury.

Later, when Walker appeared before the Grand Jury for his role in the riots, he denied any role in the violence, and claimed that he got up on the Confederate Statue and proclaimed the words, "violence is not the way!"

The Grand Jury believed him, mainly because (as far as I can tell) no other eye-witnesses were called. Bishop Gray told me that he was never called to the Grand Jury, and if he had been, he would have asked to charge Walker with perjury.

Nevertheless, the former Major General Edwin A. Walker was acquitted by the Grand Jury, and walked away a free man.

So - yes, when General Walker was a soldier in WW2 and Korea, he was a war hero. But when Walker resigned from the Army (resigned, not retired; making him the only US General to resign in the 20th century), he became a terribly conflicted individual.

Best regards,

--Paul Trejo, MA

Edited by Paul Trejo
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Conflicted after resigning???

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Conflicted after resigning???

Well, you're right, John, insofar as Walker was conflicted to a large degree even before resigning. I say this because Walker's resignation under JFK in November, 1961 was actually his second attempt at resigning from the Army. He first tried to resign under Eisenhower in 1959, partly in response to his conflicted conscience over the forcible racial integration of Little Rock High School.

We must add to this his internal conflict from 1940 through 1961, insofar as Walker was (almost certainly) gay when it was illegal to be gay in the Army. Yet Walker was a General -- the conflict he felt must have been enormous.

However, I still believe his inner conflct after he resigned was even greater. I say this because of his 1962 failures:

(1) he lost his bid for Governor of Texas;

(2) he lost any chance of redemption in the fiasco of the Senate Subcommittee hearings about his case against the Overseas Weekly;

(3) Walker lost his chance for redemption at Ole Miss college, when he tried to keep James Meredith from registering there in the riots of Ole Miss in which hundreds were wounded and two were killed;

(4) Walker, a great General and hero of World War Two, was humiliated when he was confined to a mental institution by RFK from October 1st through 5th, 1962;

(5) last but perhaps most of all, because Walker had to perjure himself to convince a Grand Jury to acquit him of the crime of instigating the riots at Ole Miss.

So, 1962 was a bad year for General Walker. He began 1963 with very low self-esteem, IMHO.

Best regards,

--Paul Trejo

<edit typography>

Edited by Paul Trejo
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