Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
Heroes Among Us: W. Frank Walker
Frank Walker accepted a commission in the U.S. Army after graduating from Clemson University ROTC program. Not long joining the Army’s ranks, 1st. Lt. Walker was stationed in Vietnam flying the OH-6A Loach helicopter with F Troop, 4th Air Calvary.
One night during Walker’s tour, a Marine helicopter was shot down behind enemy lines and his unit was called to support a rescue operation. Walker volunteered and began flight to the downed Marines who were deep in enemy territory. Escorted by a pair of Cobra gunships, Walker flew nap of the earth (at a very low altitude) to avoid machine gun fire and missiles fired from enemy troops on the ground.
After locating the Marines, Walker realized his new passengers exceeded the Loach’s maximum payload. His mission was further complicated by the extreme humidity that hindered lift. Walker ordered a purge of the aircraft’s nonessential items, including excess ammunition, grenades and other items. Walker’s helicopter finally gained the required lift and he was able to fly the Marines to safety.
Walker received the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroics that evening. However, his true heroism emerged when he was asked whether he felt guilt at the Vietnam War at symposium. Walker’s response was humbling—he felt guilty for leaving his troop in Vietnam when he felt he had so much more to contribute.
Lt. Col. Walker retired in 1991 after 26 years of honorable service and is truly a hero among us.
Lt. Col. Walker shared his memories of Vietnam at our recent symposium, “Heroes Among Us,” and in this video posted by ABC News 4.
The FULL one-hour broadcast of the symposium is available here.