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Walter Walsh

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Walter Rudolph Walsh
An older gentleman wearing glasses and who is bald except for a crescent of white hair at the back of his head is standing in the middle of a crowd wearing a light blue suit and dark blue tie. A man in a brown shirt whose back is turned to the camera is pointing a blue microphone with the number one at the older man.
Walter Walsh, aged 101, attends the Federal Bureau of Investigation's 100th anniversary gathering in 2008
Born (1907-05-04)May 4, 1907
West Hoboken, New Jersey, U.S.
Died April 29, 2014(2014-04-29) (aged 106)
Arlington, Virginia, U.S.
Alma mater Rutgers Law School
Occupation FBI agent, USMC shooting instructor
Military career
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Rank Colonel
Commands held Commander of marksmen training

World War II

Walter Walsh
Medal record
Representing  United States
Men's shooting
ISSF World Shooting Championships
Gold medal – first place 1952 Oslo 25 m Center-Fire Pistol Team
Silver medal – second place 1952 Oslo 25 m Center-Fire Pistol Individual

Colonel Walter Rudolph Walsh (May 4, 1907 – April 29, 2014) was an FBI agent, USMC shooting instructor and Olympic shooter. Walsh joined the FBI in 1934, serving during the Public enemy era, and was involved in several high-profile FBI cases, including the capture of Arthur Barker and the killing of Al Brady. He served in the Pacific theatre during World War II with the Marine Corps and, after a brief return to the FBI, served as a shooting instructor with the Marine Corps until his retirement in the 1970s.

A high-profile shooter, Walsh won numerous tournaments within the FBI and the Marine Corps, as well as nationally, and participated in the 1948 Summer Olympics. He received awards for his marksmanship until the age of 90 and served as the coach of the Olympic shooting team until 2000. At the FBI's 100th anniversary celebration he was recognized as the oldest living former agent and noted as being a year older than the organization itself. Aside from some hearing and memory loss, he remained physically fit at his 103rd birthday and, in March 2013, became the longest-lived Olympic competitor.

Early life and FBI career[edit]

Walsh was born in West Hoboken, New Jersey, which merged with Union Hill to become Union City in 1925.[1] He joined the Civilian Military Training Corps at age 16, and the New Jersey Army National Guard in 1928.[2] After graduating from Rutgers Law School, Walsh joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1934. Later that year, he discovered the body of gangster Baby Face Nelson, who died of injuries sustained in a gun battle with the police in Barrington, Illinois on November 27, 1934.[3] Nelson had killed two FBI agents prior to fleeing the scene, wounded, and later died at his wife's side. The FBI, unaware of Nelson's death, continued a broad search for him, which included several home raids, through the night and into the following day. The search was not called off until a tip led them to Nelson's body, which was lying in a ditch in what is now Skokie, Illinois.[4]

Walsh was on the team that captured criminal Arthur Barker, son of gangster Ma Barker, in Chicago in 1935 and was later involved in tracking Public Enemy Number One Al Brady in 1937. On October 12 of that year, he was with the group of FBI agents who ambushed and killed Brady in a shoot-out at a Bangor, Maine sporting goods store.[5] While waiting for Brady to arrive, he acted as a clerk in the store for several days and arrested Brady Gang member James Dalhover. As the operation leader, Walsh's job was to alert thirteen other agents, as well as over 30 other state and local policemen, of any gang member's arrival by pulling a cord on the window. As they were interrogating Dalhover in the store Clarence Lee Shaffer, Jr., another gang member, entered the building and began firing at the agents. While arresting Dalhover, Walsh took bullets to his hand, shoulder and right chest, but quickly returned to work.[3][6][7][8]

Walsh was employed with the FBI until 1942 when, as a Reserve Marine Lieutenant, he took a leave to serve with the United States Marine Corps during World War II. After he left, Hoover refused to allow any more active agents to be members of any military reserve. He fought in the Pacific Theater, specifically on Okinawa and in North China. In one incident, he and his comrades were pinned down by a sniper, whom Walsh was able to kill from 90 yards away with a single shot to the torso from a M1911 pistol.[9] He earned the rank of Colonel and returned to the FBI for two years from 1946–1947.[3][10] In total, during his tenure with the agency, he killed between 11 and 17 suspects.[11]

Shooting and the Olympics[edit]

Walter Walsh in 1939

Walsh got his start with firearms shooting clothespins off of his aunt's laundry line. In 1935 he joined the FBI pistol team.[10] Within three years of joining the FBI, he had been presented with two marksmanship trophies from director J. Edgar Hoover.[5] In 1939, at Camp Ritchie, he set the world record in pistol shooting with 198 points out of a possible 200[12] and won the individual eastern regional pistol championships in 1939 and 1940[13] and placing second in 1941 after leading for most of the tournament.[14][15][16] He placed 12th in the Men's Free Pistol, 50 metres competition at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, England.[1] At the 1952 ISSF World Shooting Championships, he won a gold medal with the United States team in the 25 m Center-Fire Pistol event[17] and a silver in the individual version of that event.[18] After winning many tournaments within the United States Marine Corps, he became commander of their marksmanship training, a position that he held for many years,[5] until he retired in the 1970s.[11] In total, he was selected five times for the All-American Pistol Shooting Team.[10]

Later life[edit]

Walsh had three daughters, two sons and seventeen grandchildren.[8] As late as 1997, he was still receiving awards for his marksmanship, winning the Outstanding American Handgunner of the Year.[9] Until 2000 he served as a coach for the Olympic shooting team, able to see without the aid of glasses even at the age of 92.[19] At the age of 100 he was present at a re-enactment of the Al Brady shoot out in Bangor, Maine.[7][20] At this event, he was presented with a plaque and the key to the city.[21] At the age of 101, he was the FBI's oldest living former agent and was in excellent physical shape, aside from some hearing and memory loss. He credited his longevity to luck, listening to his parents and blessings from God. At the 100th anniversary celebration of the FBI, it was noted that Walsh was older than the agency itself.[5] In March 2013, at the age of 105, he surpassed American gymnast Rudolf Schrader to become the longest-lived Olympic competitor.[22] He died at his home in Arlington, Virginia in April 2014, less than a week prior to his 107th birthday.[23][24]


  1. ^ a b Gjerde, Arild; Jeroen Heijmans; Bill Mallon; Hilary Evans (2009). "Walter Walsh Biography and Statistics". Olympics. Sports Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  2. ^ Vanderpool, Bill (2010-10-21). "The Amazing Life of Walter R. Walsh". Articles. American Rifleman. Retrieved 2012-10-09. 
  3. ^ a b c John Miller (2009). FBI 100 – Walter Walsh (YouTube). Washington, D.C.: Federal Bureau of Investigation. 
  4. ^ Nickel, Steven; William J. Helmer (April 2002). Baby Face Nelson: portrait of a public enemy. Cumberland House Publishing. pp. 357–62. ISBN 1-58182-272-3. 
  5. ^ a b c d Temple-Raston, Dina (2008-07-26). "FBI Marks 100; Former Agent Has Long Memories". News. National Public Radio. Retrieved 2009-08-27. 
  6. ^ "Tough Customers". Crime. Time. 1937-10-25. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  7. ^ a b Russell, Jenna (2007-10-06). "Bangor recalls Brady Gang". Local. Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  8. ^ a b Telvock, Dan (2009-05-06). "SHARPSHOOTING G-MAN HONORED". News. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  9. ^ a b Ayoob, Massad. "The AYOOB FILES." American Handgunner. May 1, 2001. Retrieved August 26, 2009 from accessmylibrary:
  10. ^ a b c Wack, Larry E. (2009). "Faded Glory: Dusty Roads Of An FBI Era". Historical G Men. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  11. ^ a b Culver, Dick (2002). "The Start of Modern Marine Corps Scout Sniper Instructor School" (PDF). Bob Rohrer. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  12. ^ "SETS WORLD RECORD FOR PISTOL SHOOTING; Walsh, F.B.I. Expert, Records 198 at Camp Ritchie". Sports. New York Times. 1939-07-02. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  13. ^ "PISTOL HONORS GO TO FBI MAN AGAIN; Walsh Fires Total of 1,735 to Retain Eastern Title-- N. Y. Police Triumph". Sports. New York Times. 1940-07-06. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  14. ^ "CITY POLICE LEADING IN PISTOL TOURNEY; Top White House Guardians, the Winners Last Year, by a Point". New York Times. 1941-08-17. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  15. ^ Keyes, Frank (1941-08-21). "Marksmen's Widespread Activities". The Hartford Courant. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  16. ^ Keyes, Frank (1941-09-22). "Boston Team Captures Police Revolver Title". The Hartford Courant. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  17. ^ "Historical Results". Team Events World Championships. International Shooting Sport Federation. 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  18. ^ "Historical Results". Current Events World Championships. International Shooting Sport Federation. 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  19. ^ Taffin, John. "Old warriors. (Campfire Tales)." Guns Magazine. August 1, 2003. Retrieved August 26, 2009 from accessmylibrary:
  20. ^ "Brady Gang shooting replayed". Portland Press Herald. 2007-10-08. 
  21. ^ Doughty, Larry (2007-10-07). "HISTORICAL EVENT IN DOWNTOWN BANGOR, THE BRADY GANG COMES TO CENTRAL STREET". Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  22. ^ "1948 Olympian & Centenarian Walter Walsh Now World's Oldest Olympian Ever". United States Olympic Committee. 2013-03-21. Retrieved 2013-03-22. 
  23. ^ Lancaster, Marc (2014-04-30). "Walter Walsh, oldest Olympian, dies days shy of 107th birthday". The Washington Times. Retrieved 2014-04-30. 
  24. ^ McFadden, Robert D. (2014-05-02). "Walter R. Walsh Dies at 106; Terrorized Gangsters and Targets". The New York Times. p. B9. Retrieved 2014-05-07.