Chuck Walker, decorated WWII pilot who had to fatten up so he could serve, dies at 95
By JOE SIMNACHER
Published: 19 June 2014 10:00 PM
Charles Lynn "Chuck" Walker, retired Air Force lieutenant colonel
Photo: NA / NA
Charles Lynn “Chuck” Walker was decorated for flying 35 combat missions over Europe during World War II, but he didn’t enlist at the beginning of the conflict.
“He was too skinny,” said his daughter, Susan Walker Horlock of Dallas. “They wouldn’t take him, so my grandmother used to give him peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches to fatten him up.”
Walker filled out and became a B-24 Liberator pilot. His wartime service became a 25-year Air Force career. He was a lieutenant colonel when he retired in 1967.
Walker, 95, died Monday at The Plaza at Edgemere of medical complications following a broken ankle in February.
Services will be at 10 a.m. Friday at Sparkman/Hillcrest Funeral Home in Dallas. A reception will follow the service. He will be buried at 2 p.m. Friday at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery.
“The term an officer and a gentleman describes my father,” Horlock said. “He remarried on his 91st birthday and … he always opened the door for her. He always walked on the outside of the sidewalk toward the street.
“He was just a complete gentleman, with incredible integrity,” she said. “He was extremely humble.”
Walker was born in Anna, Ill., and grew up in Boulder, Colo. He was a University of Colorado student when he entered the Army Air Forces. He was based with the 2nd Air Division, 8th Air Force, 445th Bombardment Group in Norwich, England.
He received the Distinguished Flying Cross, a Silver Star and three Bronze Stars for valor and bravery. The French government awarded him the Croix de Guerre. His B-24 was named The Bunnie.
“When I was growing up, he would never talk about World War II,” his daughter said. “My brother and I would say, ‘What are these medals for?’ He’d laugh and say, ‘Showing up for dinner.’”
In recent years, however, Walker had been active with the Second Air Division Memorial Library in Norwich, a memorial to the nearly 7,000 2nd Air Division members who died in the war.
“The people in Norwich are to this day incredibly grateful and incredibly aware that the war could have gone very differently had America not gotten into it,” Horlock said.
Walker did tell another 445th Bombardment veteran, Ray Lemons of Dallas, about one precarious mission, when The Bunnie lost an engine.
“When you have a windmilling prop out there, it’s going to crash if you don’t do something about it,” Lemons said. “Luckily he made it back to the base. It was a tough mission.”
Lemons and Walker met through the Second Air Division Memorial Library, where Walker was on the board of governors.
Walker’s Air Force career took him to air bases in Greece, France and across the nation, including Greenville, Miss., where he met his wife to be, Maxine Burnett. Mr. and Mrs. Walker were married for 56 years. She died in 2004.
“He was a career pilot and he retired on active flying status, which is very unusual,” Horlock said.
Walker continued to fly after his Air Force retirement as a cargo pilot for Saturn Airways.
He moved to Dallas in 1994. He married Dede Weldon Casad in August 2009.
In addition to his wife and daughter, Walker is survived by a son, Charles L. Walker Jr. of Camden, Maine; one grandchild; and one great-grandchild.
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