Merrit Cecil Walton

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Merrit Cecil Walton
Born (1915-12-18)December 18, 1915
St. Paul, Minnesota
Died August 7, 1942(1942-08-07) (aged 26)
Gavutu in the Solomon Islands
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1937–1942
Rank Platoon Sergeant
Unit 1st Marine Division (Reinforced)
Battles/wars World War II
*Battle of Guadalcanal
Awards Navy Cross (posthumous)
Purple Heart
share of Presidential Unit Citation

Merrit Cecil Walton (December 18, 1915 – August 7, 1942) was an American Marine Corps platoon sergeant who died a hero in battle at Gavutu in the Solomon Islands.

Marine Corps career[edit]

Walton enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on May 19, 1937 at San Francisco, California, and initially served at San Diego, California, before going to the Asiatic Station that autumn. As a member of the 4th Marine Regiment, quartered in the International Settlement of Shanghai, China, Walton witnessed part of the bloody battle that raged for that key city between Chinese and Japanese forces and, as such, was an early observer of Japanese aggression in the Far East. During his tour in China, he received promotion to private, 1st class, on May 10, 1939.

Returning to the United States in the autumn of 1940, Walton served successive tours of duty at the Marine barracks at Mare Island, Vallejo, California; the Naval Air Station, Lakehurst, New Jersey; Quantico, Virginia, and New River, North Carolina. He was promoted to Sergeant on August 1, 1941 and platoon sergeant on April 8, 1942.

Battle of Guadalcanal[edit]

Platoon Sergeant Walton was serving in a parachute battalion as part of the 1st Marine Division (Reinforced) that was selected to land in the Solomons in August 1942. Companies A and B of that battalion landed on the island of Gavutu on the morning of August 7, 1942. The enemy, already alerted by the landings on Guadalcanal and Tulagi, met the marines' frontal assault with a withering fire.

Awarded the Navy Cross[edit]

Although fully aware of the danger involved, Platoon Sergeant Walton volunteered to reconnoiter the position of a troublesome Japanese machine gun nest threatening his platoon's right flank. Once he had spotted the weapon's location, he led a daring attack during which the leathernecks silenced the gun. Mortally wounded, however, Platoon Sergeant Walton died later that same day. Posthumous awards accorded the sergeant included the Navy Cross, the Purple Heart, and a share of the Presidential Unit Citation awarded the 1st Marine Division (Reinforced).

Namesake[edit]

USS Walton (DE-361) was named in his honor. She was laid down on March 21, 1944 at Orange, Texas, by the Consolidated Steel Corp.; launched on May 20, 1944 sponsored by Mrs. Clara Olson, the mother of the late Sergeant Walton; and commissioned on September 4, 1944, Lt. Cmdr. Wilbur S. Wills, Jr., in command.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.