30 May 2010

Sentimental Sunday: Memorial Day, Part 2 -- Ralph Keith Walker (1918-1969)

Now for something new.  My fondest memories of growing up are the days I spent with my Dad and my uncle Ralph, usually hunting.  We hunted ducks, geese, doves, quail, and pheasants.  It was my Dad and my uncle Ralph that introduced me to working Labrador Retrievers, and are primarily responsible for how integral they have become in my life.  You see, I was too young to take much interest in Dad and Ralph's conversations on our hunting trips, so I spent all my time bonding with the dogs.

Ralph voluntarily enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1938.  He was stationed aboard the battleship USS West Virginia in communications as a radio operator.  In early 1941, Ralph was transferred to the heavy cruiser USS Minneapolis.  On December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the USS Minneapolis was 20 miles north participating in gunnery practice.  But the USS West Virginia was sunk, killing over a hundred of her crew.

Ralph saw lots of action in World War II, earning five medals and accommodations with service stars (three in Asian Pacific, one in Atlantic off coast of north Africa) that represent actual engagement with the enemy.  He was at Wake Island, and the Battle of Leyte Gulf;  He helped liberate the Philippines and allied forces invade north Africa.  In addition to the USS West Virginia, and the USS Minneapolis, he also served aboard the USS Walker, the USS Titania, and the USS Terry.  He separated out in October 1945, two months after the surrender of Japan and the end of the war, serving a total of seven and a half years; enlisting before it began, exiting after it was over.

Ralph died in 1969 at age 50 from a kind of cancer that is now curable in over 90% of the patients who contract it, but for which they didn't have a cure back then.  He left behind my aunt "Betty" (Florence Esther Spurrier, 1920-2009) and a daughter.

Copyright © 2010 by Kevin W. Walker

No comments:

Post a Comment