General Edwin A. Walker: The Revelations of A Family Who Knew (and Loathed) Him

The Strange Machinations of General Walker in the Three Month Period before JFK’s Assassination

General (“Resigned, not Retired”, 1961) Edwin A. Walker

“I had duty in the Radio Control Center … I received a call one morning around 0600-0630 and I immediately recognized the voice as that of the General. He asked me if I would have the Officer of the Day send someone to pick him up, his driver had parked in the garage and committed suicide.  I will never forget the nonchalance in his voice.”  ~ Larry Mooneyham, a veteran of the 24th Infantry Division in Europe under Gen. Walker

The above quotation is taken from an incisive and thorough essay titled “Major General Edwin A. Walker & the Cold War” by Bob Rowen available here [1]

Ex-General Walker Describes Himself:

Courtesy of the J. Evetts Haley Memorial Library, Midland Texas
(The JEH Collection B. Alphabetical, Walker, Gen. Edwin 1962-74).

The reference in Walker’s above “CV” about his having been offered the highest level military position in Vietnam by JFK is further described in the linked article by Bob Rowen, although the author discounts that possibility. But given the context — that it had occurred early in the administration, before Walker’s subsequent offences, and his explanation that he had consulted with Douglas Macarthur, who was known to be strongly against American involvement — it may have validity. It should also be considered in the light of what JFK aides Kenneth O’Donnell and Dave Powers said about Kennedy’s motives in appointing Henry Cabot Lodge to be ambassador to Vietnam: “The idea of getting Lodge mixed up in such a hopeless mess as the one in Vietnam was irresistible.”[2]

In Walker’s case, the same sentiment would have undoubtedly applied, and further, it might have also occurred to JFK that doing this would not only get the General out of his hair but might possibly avoid further embarrassments of the kind that did subsequently materialize.

The enigmatic private life of ex-General Edwin A. Walker known to be the epitome of an extreme right-wing zealot, member of the John Birch Society, reportedly the Ku Klux Klan as well, and exposed as a homosexual by his two arrests for “public lewdness” in the mid-1970s has recently become even more complicated. The fact that the persona of Walker kept materially changing throughout his life grew into a rather large and well documented major article in the New York Times on October 4,1962 (See Page 2).

The newly-revealed information follows below, but it is pertinent to note that much more information about Walker became known many years after the assassination and grew incrementally as other events occurred. In 1963-64, Walker’s reported involvement was having supposedly been shot at by Lee Harvey Oswald seven months previous to the assassination. The circumstances of all of that have since been subject to great skepticism, tantamount to the destruction of the notion that Oswald had anything to do with it (as has been the case with practically everything else promulgated by the Warren Commission). Since it rested largely on the testimony of his wife Marina, most of which was forced upon her by the Secret Service and FBI, none of it can be presumed to be the truth.

In a future blog, we will review more evidence that General Walker was not only a willing accomplice in the shooting incident but that he was very active in numerous other pre-assassination activities preparing for what was termed “The Big Event” in conjunction with a number of notable New Orleans- and Dallas-based operatives.

In fact, the information below complements that point. It is being presented as a “standalone” story, too important to be overshadowed by the complexity of Walker’s overarching activities.


A Family’s Retrospective: Troubling Times with General Walker

The family of a long-deceased man who once worked as Gen. Edwin Walker’s assistant and driver at his Washington office (pre-Pentagon, during WWII) recently confided in me certain long pent-up, lingering memories of events visited upon them during a three- or four-month period of time, beginning about August or September, 1963.  There was another difficult aftermath that followed, which could accurately be called “endless.”

Their father’s military service began at a time when Walker commanded a joint American-Canadian commando team in the Italian campaign, a unit that appeared to be an early forerunner of what would become the Special Forces. Walker traveled frequently during this time and when he was not in the office their father would be available for reassignment to other tasks. For many years their father said very little about his experiences in the service, although he had explained that due to his assignment in Washington he never left the states, unlike his brothers and cousins, who had all served overseas.

At their request, the family’s surname is being withheld for their privacy; they were all children or teenagers in 1963 and experienced certain related traumatic events which impede their willingness to express themselves publicly.

Lee was the youngest of the three children (age 11 in 1963) and became the family’s spokesperson in our several telephone conversations, in behalf of his older brother and, the oldest of the three, a sister (who had been age 19 then but “she looked much younger, like she was 15 or 16”). Lee also stated that his father would often be gone for a week or two at a time without explanation, at least to him.

Eventually, about a year or so before he died, their father explained how he had completed his four years of service in Washington, mostly as an aide to Walker but in some cases he was called upon to assist in other tasks.  One of these was helping President Roosevelt in getting into position to make a speech in such a way that would not show him being wheeled or carried onto a stage (due to his being crippled by polio in younger years) to photographers or filming personnel. “He seemed reluctant to tell me anything about it; I had to ask him to tell me more,” Lee said, and his father had then replied: “On more than one occasion I was involved in getting him [FDR] set up for his speech but not to let reporters see them.”  He further explained that, to do that they had to take part of a side of the building off, enough to drive him inside, put him in a wheelchair, then escort him to the stage and prop him up at the podium without letting the public know it. “They didn’t want the President to appear to be weak,” his father explained to Lee. Of course, he had been sworn to secrecy about that, which would partly explain why he remained hesitant to talk about any of it.

Lee’s older brother eventually explained to him that the occasional absences of their father were due to his being hospitalized in a Veterans Hospital, though the reasons for that were still unclear. It wasn’t until sometime later that he came to the beliefsince there were no apparent physical problems that required hospitalization, and the fact that he was admitted to the Fort Roots hospital in Little Rock, for psychiatric patientsthat they were due to something related to his mental health.

Even in the final year of his life, their father was very reluctant to discuss his time or relationship to General Walker. He did indicate, in “looks”and other non-verbal communications he gave the children if they began to say anything that might reveal that the family liked President Kennedythat they should “shut-up.” It became clear to them that he still feared, and disliked, Walker. When Lee persisted, his father would acknowledge only that he “didn’t like” Walker, but he would not explain the reasons for that.

Until 1963, Walker did not visit the family often, but beginning in September of that year, all of that changed. The visits suddenly became frequent, and the general would talk about visiting a nearby “camp” but they were never given an explanation of what that camp was about, though the lack of that information apparently aroused their individual suspicions about it as they reflected on the possible consequent context.

For many years, their father would not allow the boys to own a gun. But in 1963, just before Gen. Walker suddenly began visiting them frequently, while on a shopping trip in August the boys were both invited to buy rifles, so they both bought single-shot .22 caliber rifles and began target shooting with them. It was possibly an idea that originated with a suggestion from Walker to their father. When that day came, they accompanied their father and General Walker on a hunting trip for squirrels, an activity that would be repeated again, at least once more during the period.

On one occasion, when the boys rode in the back seat as their father and the general drove along, they napped, but in waking moments, both heard pieces of their conversation. Lee explained that both of them heard some parts, while one or the other heard other parts. Lee and his brother later discussed those parts and affirmed with each other that the conversations were laced with anti-Kennedy rants and undisguised hatred from Walker and obligatory, but perfunctory, grunts and cursory assents from their father. In later recollections and conversations between Lee and his brother—after JFK’s assassination and through the ensuing decades—what they heard years before became memories that seemed more and more sinister.

There was another trip where, in addition to the boys, their father and Walker, two other men—strangers to the boys— accompanied them to another location. When they arrived, the father instructed the boys to remain in or around the car while the four men walked as a group into the woods, clearly to ensure that they could have guaranteed privacy for a conversation that required much secrecy, one that lasted approximately 3 hours. No explanations were offered for the furtiveness, but that only added to the mystery of what had been so secret that it required the four men to act in such a manner, oblivious to the fact that the two boys would forever live with the memory of that strange and seminal event. Considering the period—the fall of 1963, just weeks before JFK’s assassination—and the spiteful hatred of the President exhibited by the leader of this group, it can only be considered in the most sinister light.

On November 22, 1963 their father was back in the Fort Roots Veterans Administration psychiatric hospital, possibly as a direct result of those visits with his former commander.

Throughout this period, as the father was absent on certain occasions for still-unknown reasons, the visits became less about General Walker visiting their father and more about him visiting their sister. And those visits were always timed to occasions when their father was not present, which indicated he always knew when that would, or did, occur. Three or four times altogether, in the late evenings, Walker would arrive unannounced, and he arrived with gifts for her, and only her. On the first of these visits he showed up at night, with a box of candy and a bouquet of flowers for her. On another, he brought her jewelry. In addition to the series of visits, he began calling her on the telephone. She explained to him that she had a boyfriend, but his response was that “the boy cannot give her the things that he could.” On his last visit, around Christmas of that year, her mother answered the door and explained to the General that “my daughter is too young for you, and I don’t want you to bring her anything else, or come back again, to see her.” The daughter had put his presents into a box which the mother then handed to him as she asked him to please leave. Before he did, he slipped past her and placed a $50 bill on the Christmas tree, then left. (The value of that $50 would be equivalent to $430 today).

A painful family memory that was proffered by Lee towards the end of our conversations was that in the wake of these events their father made an attempt to commit suicide. He had taken a lethal dose of medication and, by the time his wife discovered him, he was lying comatose in bed. She called for emergency assistance and managed to save his life at that point, but that event underscored the extent of the psychic damage his involvement with Walker had caused. Had she not discovered his condition when she did, his fate would have become the second occurrence of his drivers’ utter desperation caused by his brutishness, as noted in the epigraph above.

It is a distinct possibility that there was a rare “softer side” of Walker that was triggered by the news of the father’s suicide attempt. Because there was still another event in the aftermath that had caused a lasting memory within the family during this period: It was the day that the father took a telephone call from General Walker and, upon hanging up, announced to his wife that he had been given a 100% disability pension. This was within two months after that final visit. The surprise at this “gift” was understandable, considering that he had never been in a combat zone, had never even been outside the of United States and had never suffered a service related physical injury.

The family believes that Walker (and others close to him), was more deeply involved in JFK’s assassination than ever known before. As noted by Lee, in a subsequent email to me, it is possible that—given this indication of a general’s influence (even one who had so dramatically “resigned” his position)—Walker had used a similar tactic to reward key members of his “Citizen’s Army” for their support and assistance. It is reasonable to conclude that the “camp” he repeatedly referenced in Jasper, Arkansas might have been a training base for some of those individuals, and that would explain why, during this three- or four-month period prior to JFK’s assassination, he traveled back and forth between there and his home. The family’s home was located in Conway, Arkansas, about a five hour trip (350 miles) northeast of Dallas, where Walker lived. The “camp” he was often visiting during this period was about 100 miles farther north, such that Conway was a convenient stopover point.

Moreover, and despite his later “outings” as a homosexual, it can at least be said that—considering his age, 54 at the time—he had sexuality conflictions that remained unresolved. As a long-time bachelor, he had demonstrated his attraction to young girls, those whose age (real or as perceived by him) was less than the legal age of consent. In 1963 the girl was 19, but looked much younger than that. If that wasn’t technically the sign of a pedophile, it was at least, arguably, the sign of a boorish, delusional post-middle age man. Psychiatrists (or anyone, for that matter, who ever took a college-level psychology course) might conclude that this was a man suffering bouts of paranoid schizophrenia while exhibiting severe visions of grandeur; that term, “severe” is justified by his complete lack of nuance, even a reasonable level of judgement, or empathy towards the feelings of other family members, in his acts of flirtation toward her.

Added to his fervent hatred for the Kennedys, his unabashed intolerance for anyone else who might have the temerity to defend them, and his violent temperament, it can be reasonably posited that the term “paranoid” might apply in a much larger context.


NOTE: To increase the size of these articles for easier reading, right-click over the image and select “Open image in new tab” then go to the new tab and move the cursor over the image, left click and the image will expand. It may be further controlled by holding the “Ctrl” key and “+” to increase, or “-” to decrease the font size.

See page 2 for the October 4, 1962 New York Times article “Military Men Say Walker Changed After He Became a General”

ENDNOTES

[1] Rowen, Bob, “Right vs. Left Politics in the Cold War and the Improbable Saga of Major General Edwin Walker” http://www.bobrowen.com/walkermedia/

[2] O’Donnell and Powers, Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, p. 16.

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