This December 25th marks my 50th Christmas here in the United States. When I reflect on my fortune as a U.S. citizen and how old I am, I can’t help but remember those whose lives were shortened while fighting for our country South Korea’s freedom during the War between 1950-1953.
Gen. Walton H. Walker was one of them. Then a four-star-general, he died on Dec. 23, 1950 on an icy mountain road when his jeep collided with one of the South Korean military supply trucks heading North to aid the dissembled South Korean troops scattered in the freezing weather, after a massive body of Chinese army had ambushed them.
Gen. Walker was only 61 years-old.
Our then distraught president, 75, Syngman Rhee, ordered the South Korean military to execute the Korean truck driver, who had been seriously injured from the collision, but the American military officials protested against Rhee’s baseless judgment, saying that such an accident on an icy road wasn’t a human fault.
General Walton H. Walker was known for courage and integrity. Although General Douglas MacArthur was praised for the UN Troops’ successful amphibian landing on Inchon port, on September 15, 1950, a massive operation that involved 74,000 troops, 199 sea vessels and more than 700 field vehicles, it was General Walton H. Walker who did the groundwork by establishing Pusan Perimeter, a defense line, along the Nakdong River and rebuilding the strength of the U.N. troops, that had been threatened by the invasion, with his motto, “Fight or die!”
The most heart breaking facts of the story is that General Walker’s wife Caroline Victoria had flown in from the States and was waiting for her husband to join her, with their 25 year old son Lieutenant Sam Sims Walker at her side, to celebrate Christmas together. But the general couldn’t join them.
The junior Walker, Sam Sims, also served his country as a four star general and carried his father’s legacy with him, until he died last year at age 90.