|Donald Ralph Walters|
|Born||September 16, 1969|
|Died||March 23, 2003
Executed while in captivity in Nasiriyah, Iraq
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1988-2003 |
|Unit||507th Maintenance Company|
|Battles/wars||Persian Gulf War
Donald Ralph Walters (September 16, 1969 – March 23, 2003) was a United States Army Quartermaster Corps Sergeant, officially listed as killed in action in southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah on March 23, 2003 in the same ambush in which Jessica Lynch was captured. He was awarded the Silver Star for his gallantry during the attack.
Walters grew up in Colorado where his father was a trombone player at the United States Air Force Academy. The family moved to Salem, Oregon in 1981 where he graduated from North Salem High School. He lived in the Kansas City, Missouri area for about six years. The aspiring writer of children’s books served in the first Persian Gulf War. He left active duty for the reserves in Independence, Missouri. He worked as a corrections officer and at a jail, and at the airport in Kansas City. He re-entered the Army in the summer of 2002 to give his family a better quality of life.
Walters was a food service specialist (cook) and member of the United States Army 507th Maintenance Company. The exact nature of Walters' death, and its relationship to the Lynch ambush has created controversy.
Walters' family had called for an investigation into their son's death, pressuring the Oregon National Guard, who released, on May 27, 2004, information suggesting that Walters was captured and executed. A National Guard spokesman stated that an Iraqi ambulance driver witnessed Walters, still alive, guarded by six Fedayeen, in front of a building. Walters was led inside the building, and several hours later, the same witness delivered his dead body to a hospital. DNA samples recovered from blood in the building match that of Walters, and splatter vectors suggest that he died from two gunshot wounds to the back, from more than twenty feet away.
During initial reports after the Lynch rescue, it had been stated that a blonde soldier, presumably Lynch, had fought until she ran out of ammunition, although she later refuted this; although there has been no official investigation into this matter, it has been widely speculated that this soldier was Walters, who is also blond. Walter's mother, Arlene Walters, appeared on the CBS Early Show, making this claim, on May 28.
Army reports from 2003 state that Walters died in the fighting during an ambush that left ten others dead; with no American witnesses to his death. It has now been suggested that Walters was separated from his unit; several gun magazines were found near the location of Walters' capture, suggesting that he may have, indeed, fought until he ran out of ammunition. Before capture, Walters was shot in the leg, stabbed twice with a knife in the abdomen and had a dislocated left shoulder.
Sgt. Walters was interred with military honors at the Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas on April 12, 2003. More than 150 of Sgt. Walters' relatives, friends and Army comrades attended his funeral. At the funeral, his widow, Stacie, was presented with the Bronze Star and Purple Heart awarded to her husband.
Sgt. Walters' posthumously awarded Bronze Star was upgraded to the Silver Star for gallantry in action, in March 2004. The ceremony was held at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas with Brigadier General Howard Bromberg, director of the Enlisted Personnel Management Directorate, U.S. Army Human Resources Command presenting the decoration to Mrs. Walters. In his remarks, General Bromberg suggested that Sgt. Walters is believed to have provided covering fire for his comrades, allowing many of them the opportunity to escape at the cost of his own life. Sgt. Walters also received the Prisoner of War Medal in May of the same year.
- "Sergeant's sacrifice honored", Kansas City Times, Page B-1, April 13, 2003.
- "Army upgrades sergeant's award to Silver Star reflecting heroism in deadly ambush", Fort Leavenworth Lamp, Page 14, April 15, 2004.