Sam S. Walker
|Sam S. Walker|
|Birth name||Sam Sims Walker|
July 31, 1925|
West Point, New York
|Died||August 8, 2015
Charlotte, North Carolina
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1946-1978|
|Commands held||Allied Land Forces South East Europe
3rd Infantry Division
|Awards||Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross
|Relations||General Walton Walker (father)|
|Other work||Superintendent, Virginia Military Institute|
Sam Sims Walker (July 31, 1925 – August 8, 2015), United States Army, was an American General who served as the Commanding General of Allied Land Forces, South East Europe (COMLANDSOUTHEAST) from 1977 to 1978.
Walker was born at West Point, New York, and was the son of General Walton Walker, himself a four-star general. He enrolled in the Virginia Military Institute in 1941, but transferred to the United States Military Academy the next year. Upon graduation from West Point in 1946, he was commissioned into the infantry, and his initial assignment was with the 11th Airborne Division on occupation duty in Japan. He served in the Korean War, during which, as a company commander in the 24th Infantry Division, he earned a Silver Star. Also during his time in Korea, his father, then commanding the Eighth Army, was killed in a vehicle accident, and Walker escorted his body back to the U.S. Returning to the United States at the end of his combat tour in 1951, he was assigned to the U.S. Army Infantry School as an instructor.
After graduating in 1957 from the Command and General Staff College, Walker served in a variety of assignments, to include aide-de-camp to the Chief of Staff of the Army, tactical officer at West Point, and Secretary of the General Staff of the United Nations Command/US Forces, Korea. He was a distinguished graduate from the National War College in 1963, and then assumed command of the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment. He volunteered for duty in Vietnam, serving as G-3, 1st Infantry Division, and took command of the 2d Brigade as a lieutenant colonel, earning a second Silver Star Medal. He led the Second Brigade during Operation Attleboro.
After Vietnam, Walker attended the Advanced Management Program at Harvard, followed by an assignment in the Office of the Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army as Chief of Force Readiness, Force Planning, and Analysis. After that position he was chosen to represent the Army on the Council of Foreign Relations.
He received his first star in 1968, and became the assistant division commander, 82nd Airborne Division, before being selected as the 54th Commandant of Cadets at West Point in 1969. Promoted to major general, he took command of the 3d Infantry Division, followed by selection as the U.S. commander in Berlin.
As a lieutenant general, Walker served as the deputy commanding general, United States Army Forces Command at Fort McPherson, Georgia from 1975 to 1977. In 1977 he was selected for promotion to general, at the time the youngest four-star general in the Army, and appointed to his final position as commanding general, Allied Land Forces Southeast, headquartered in Turkey. His time in Turkey was a tumultuous one, coinciding with the U.S. arms embargo against Turkey for deploying troops to Cyprus in 1974. A Turkish general was assigned command of Allied Forces in Turkey as a way to maintain positive relations with Turkey; with no four-star positions available, the Army offered Walker assignment as chief of staff for the United States European Command, a three-star position. Walker declined this post, and opted to retire. At the end of his assignment in Turkey he was awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal and the Turkish Armed Forces Medal of Distinguished Service.
Post military career
After retiring from the Army, Walker accepted the position of superintendent of the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, which he held from 1981 to 1988. He has also served as a board member of the Advisory Council of the U.S.-Korea Foundation, the Council on U.S.-Korea Security Studies, the National D-Day Museum, and the American Friends of Turkey.
He received the 2005 Distinguished Graduate Award from the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy. Walker died on August 8, 2015 at the age of 90. He was buried at West Point Cemetery, Section XVIII, Row F, Site 65.
Awards and decorations
- Individual awards
- Defense Distinguished Service Medal
- Distinguished Service Medal
- Silver Star with 1 oak leaf cluster
- Legion of Merit with 2 oak leaf clusters
- Distinguished Flying Cross
- Bronze Star
- Air Medal, with 2 silver and 3 bronze oak leaf clusters
- Army Commendation Medal
- American Campaign Medal
- World War II Victory Medal
- Army of Occupation Medal with Japan clasp
- National Defense Service Medal with 1 oak leaf cluster
- Korean Service Medal with 3 campaign stars
- Vietnam Service Medal with 2 service stars
- Unit awards
- Presidential Unit Citation
- Meritorious Unit Commendation
- Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation
- Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry Unit Award
- Civil Actions Medal Unit Citation
- Foreign awards
- Gallantry Cross of Vietnam w/ palm
- Turkish Armed Forces Medal of Distinguished Service
- United Nations Korea Medal
- Vietnam Campaign Medal
- Combat Infantryman Badge (two awards)
- Army Aviation Badge
- Master Parachutist Badge
- Army Staff Identification Badge
- Case of the Fallen Star TIME Magazine, October 9, 1978
- VMI Superintendents, 1839-present
- Walton H. Walker Arlingtoncemetery.net entry
- MacGarrigle, George. Combat operations: taking the offensive, October 1966 to October 1967. Government Printing Office. p. 51. ISBN 9780160495403.
- GEN Walker Army Staff