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WALKER, EDWIN A.

WALKER, EDWIN A. (1909–1993). Edwin A. Walker, United States army general, was born in Center Point, Kerr County, Texas, on November 10, 1909, the son of George Pickney and Charolette (Thorton) Walker. After public school he attended Schreiner Institute and then the New Mexico Military Institute from 1925 until his graduation in 1927. He attended West Point Academy from 1927 to 1931. During World War II he commanded a joint Canadian-American commando team, the First Special Service Force, in the Italian Campaign. This unit was the forerunner of the Green Berets. By 1951 Walker, already highly decorated, had reached the rank of colonel and commanded an artillery unit in the Korean War. After the war Walker received a reserve assignment as commander of the Arkansas Military District in Little Rock. There he was in charge of the integration of Little Rock High School after the Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education decision. In October 1959 Major General Walker was named commander of the Twenty-fourth Infantry Division in Europe and stationed in Augsburg, Germany. In April 1961 Walker was accused of indoctrinating his troops with right-wing literature from the John Birch Society. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara relieved Walker of his command pending an investigation into the matter. With the approval of President Kennedy, the army officially admonished Walker for his actions. The affair became a cause célèbre among liberals and conservatives in the United States, and the Kennedy Administration was accused of trying to muzzle the anti-Communist speech of its officers. Walker resigned from the army in protest.

He then embarked upon a career devoted to speaking out against communism. Locating his headquarters in Dallas, Walker gave many speeches around the country denouncing communism abroad and political liberalism at home. In February 1962 Walker became a Democratic candidate for governor of Texas. Although supported by many conservative groups and individuals, including John G. Tower, J. Evetts Haley, and Barry Goldwater, Walker finished last in the race but received more than 10 percent of the votes. In September 1961 Walker was back in the headlines, traveling to Oxford, Mississippi, to protest the enrollment of African American James Meredith at the University of Mississippi. Attorney General Robert Kennedy later issued a warrant for Walker's arrest on the charges of seditious conspiracy, insurrection, and rebellion. He was jailed for five days and claimed that he was a "political prisoner" of the Kennedy Administration. On April 10, 1963, Walker was victim of an assassination attempt while he sat at a desk in his Dallas home; the bullet missed by inches. It was later discovered that Lee Harvey Oswald had taken the shot at Walker. Marina Oswald later revealed that her husband admitted to her that he had attempted to kill Walker. Photographs of Walker's house were found in Oswald's apartment after the Kennedy assassination, and the FBI matched the bullet found at Walker's residence with fragments recovered in the Kennedy assassination. He apparently had used the same rifle both times. Oswald believed that Walker was a dangerous fascist who should be stopped before he became politically powerful. Walker never gained such power, and died in relative obscurity in Dallas on October 31, 1993. Walker was the model for the right-wing military demagogue in the Fletcher Knebel book Seven Days in May (1962).

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Chris Cravens, Edwin A. Walker and the Right Wing in Dallas, Texas (M.A. thesis, Southwest Texas State University, 1993). Edwin A. Walker Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Chris Cravens

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Chris Cravens, "WALKER, EDWIN A.," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fwaaf), accessed December 18, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.