John W Walker
LT in 3132nd Signal Service Co : 1st Platoon
Born 1920 in PA, Died 2010
Other residence(s): Berwick, PA; Iowa City, IA; Aberdeen, MD; McLean, VA; Cambridge Springs, PA; Meadville, PA
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
College education before the war: Penn State
College education after the war: Iowa State, U. Wisconsin
John W. Walker was born on February 18, 1920 in Berwick, PA. His father is missing from the historical record by the time of the 1930 census, when John and his mother were living with his widowed grandfather. By 1940, John's mother had remarried, and he had a young stepsister; he was still living in Berwick.
John graduated from Penn State in 1942 with a BS in science; he received a ROTC commission as a 2nd Lt. and enlisted in the Army eight days after graduation. He married Margaret Van Houten later that year, in December, 1942. John served in the Army until February 10, 1946, going overseas with the Ghost Army from May 30, 1944 to July 2, 1945.
After the war he joined the Army Reserves, and attended Iowa State University on the GI Bill, graduating with an MA in education, and teaching high school chemistry in Iowa City while he lived there. John and Margaret's first two children, John and William, were born in Iowa.
When the next war came along, John was recalled to active duty in 1951, and served as Captain in three campaigns in Korea. His third child, a daughter Maggie, was born in 1951 in Aberdeen, MD.
During the 18 years after Maggie's birth, the family moved 12 times, living in eight states and Japan. Along the way, John earned an MS in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin in 1958.
By 1970, John had earned the rank of Lt. Col. and was head of Army International Logistics Command in New Cumberland, PA. (That was the year his daughter became Miss Pennsylvania, and was fourth runner up for Miss America). Later that year he received a new assignment at the Pentagon, and the family moved to McLean, VA.
John also served in two campaigns in the Vietnam War.
During his 30 years of active duty in the Army, he received numerous awards including Legion of Merit, Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, and Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster.
After retiring from the Army with the rank of Colonel, he moved back to Pennsylvania where he and his wife owned a farm in Cambridge Springs. He worked for seven years for the Bureau of Pennsylvania State Parks, and they lived in Cambridge Springs for 25 years before moving to a retirement center in Meadville, PA.
John was active in many different churches over the years, in various states, serving as an Elder, a Deacon, and a Sunday School teacher. When his sons were young, he was active in the Boy Scouts and served as a Scoutmaster. He was a Mason, a member of the VFW in Edinboro, PA, a lifelong member of the Military Officers Association of America, and a member of the Edinboro Historical Society. He took up barbershop quartet singing in the early 1970s, and served as chapter president and international board member of the Barbershop Harmony Society. He was also an avid golfer.
The Walkers suffered a severe blow when all three of their children died between 2000-2005.
John died on September 9, 2010 in Meadville, PA, and is buried at Cambridge Springs Cemetery. While his children had predeceased him, he was survived by numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. In fact, his grandson, Rev. James Walker of Pittsburgh, officiated at his funeral.
1942 marriage record
1950 Pennsylvania US Veterans Compensation Files WW2
1970 article in Lancaster PA Intelligencer Journal re his daughter (has info about his career)
1970 article in Lebanon Daily News (PA) re his daughter (has info about his career)
est. late 1970s, Army questionnaire re his experience in World War II
2010 Find a Grave record
2010 Obituary in Erie Times-News