“The Greatest Generation”

Tom Brokaw described them as “The Greatest Generation”—the American men and women who endured the Great Depression, then went on to support World War II efforts through military or civilian service. These men and women not only characterized a generation, but also defined a nation.

As time passes, first-hand accounts of service and sacrifice during this heralded generation become as rare as they are vital.

Photo of David Walker

DETROIT - David Walker frequently visits Sector Detroit and celebrated his 93rd birthday there Nov. 1, 2011. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Ezra Graham)

Coast Guardsmen at Sector Detroit have an increasingly-unique opportunity to swap stories with David Walker, a Coast Guard veteran and living example of “The Greatest Generation,” on a fairly regular basis.

The decorated World War II vet served a combined total of 15 years in the Naval Reserve and on active duty in the Coast Guard, with almost five years afloat.

During World War II, Walker served aboard the USS Hunter Liggett where he met Signalman 1st Class Douglas Munro, who would later become the Coast Guard’s only Medal of Honor recipient.

Walker was a watch supervisor in the communications department aboard the ship and was responsible for all inbound and outbound radio, light, and semaphore signaling. On March 1, 1943, he was part of a landing party on Guadalcanal and spent 30 days on the island as a unit radioman. While there he saw heavy combat and multiple airstrikes. Keeping survivors calm as they traveled home from island battles kept Walker moving forward during the war, he said.

More than 68 years later, Walker remains close to the Coast Guard. He frequently visits Sector Detroit and had an especially momentous day there Nov. 1, 2011, when he celebrated his 93rd birthday alongside his friends and shipmates.

Sector Detroit is incredibly lucky to have a true Coast Guard hero amongst the crew to honor, learn from and share memories with, said Petty Officer 3rd Class Charles Walsh, III, of Sector Detroit.