Gordon M. Walker
Gordon Walker had been an integral part of the lives of our kids
and grandkids for the last 5 years, and an important influence on
me since I can remember. Strictly speaking, we were never
related. The Family Tree Maker Kinship Report says that he is
“the husband of my aunt”. Never-the-less, as far as our family is
concerned, we were kin. There are a number of interesting facets
of his life of which I am aware, but probably not the rest of the
family. I am therefore including a page on his life on this website
so that our kids and especially our grandkids will know “Uncle
Gordon” as I did.
Gordon Morris Walker was born on 18 June 1919, on a farm in Sombra Township, Lampton
County, Ontario, Canada. To put this location in perspective, Lampton County is just across St.
Clair River from St. Clair County, Michigan, where I was born and raised. He was the youngest of
three sons of Herbert Oswald and Violet Agnes (nee Selby) Walker. Farming in this area was
difficult due to the fact that soil was mostly clay which didn’t allow rain water to drain away. With
each increase in the family, life on the farm became for difficult for Violet, so she persuaded
Oswald (he preferred to be called by his middle name) to move into the nearby town of Petrolia,
where her sister and husband lived. To support his family in town, Oswald took on a job as a
milk delivery man.
On 10 March 1921, the Flu Epidemic took the boys’ mother, and Oswald was left with three small
boys: Frank Joseph, age seven; Albert John, age five; and Gordon, not quite two. To help with the
boys after his wife’s death, he hired a housekeeper, Mary Elizabeth Gardiner Archer, who herself
had three daughters, the youngest of whom was eight. Later that year, Oswald and Mary were
married and the Walker family instantly doubled in size. Oswald soon determined that he was
unable to support a family of eight with a milk route, so he decided to sell the route and seek
work in a factory. He found work at Mueller Brass in Port Huron, Michigan. He lived alone there
for nine months, when he was finally able to purchase a house on Poplar Street and move his
family to Port Huron. The family remained in that house until after World War II
Gordon attended schools in Port Huron and graduated from Port
Huron High School in 1938. He immediately got a job at Mueller
Brass piling brass rods next to an automatic screw machine. He
worked there until 24 July 1941 when, following in his older
brothers’ footsteps, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. After Boot
Camp, he received training as a Radio Mechanic. By this time,
the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States
had declared war against Germany, Italy, and Japan.
|Garfield Jr High
|High School Senior Picture 1938
Gordon’s first real Air Corps job was at the Ferry Command
Parnamirim Army Air Field, located in Natal, Brazil, arriving there in
early 1942. This base was a stopping off point for aircraft being
ferried from the United States, south to South America, and
across the Atlantic at it’s narrowest point to Africa. The Ferry
Command had considerable repair facilities at Parnamirim for
aircraft that had developed problems enroute and Gordon had
ample opportunities to polish his radio repair skills while there.
Gordon arrived in Brazil as a Private First Class (PFC) and left
there about a year later as a Sergeant.
His next stop was at Barksdale Field, Louisiana, a base where he would be spending quite a few years
throughout his military career. Here he continued as a Radio Mechanic and, in April 1943, he was
promoted to Technical Sergeant. His stay this first time at Barksdale was rather brief and he was
transferred to the Air Transport Command Coolidge AAF, located near Coolidge, Arizona. But he had a
life-altering event before he would arrive at Coolidge.
At some point prior to heading to Coolidge, Gordon took leave and returned to
Port Huron to visit family and friends. One evening, he was enjoying a “Chicken
in the Rough” dinner at the Palms Krystal Bar and was introduced to a pretty
young lady named Lucille Mae Ernst. They had a whirlwind courtship before
Gordon had to report for duty at Coolidge. Then in October 1944, Lucille boarded
a train for Arizona and the two were wed at the Presbyterian Church in Florence.
While housing was a bit of a challenge in the
Coolidge area, overall the duty wasn’t too
difficult. Gordon bought a 1939 Mercury
which enabled them to get around and enjoy
the area. They also were able to get leave
and take trips to Mexico and Hollywood.
When the war ended in 1945, the newlyweds
were given a choice of getting discharged or
reenlisting and getting a 90 day leave;
Gordon signed the papers, raised his right
hand and became a “lifer”. They took the 90
day leave, packed up and headed back to
Port Huron. Shortly after returning to
Coolidge, Gordon got orders to go back to
In February 1948, the United States Air Force became a separate service and all Army Air Corps personnel and bases reverted to the
Air Force. Barksdale Air Force Base was a training base and Gordon and Lucille lived in a house in Bossier City, right outside the
base. Then in June, the Soviets instituted the Berlin Blockade and the US, British, and French began the famous Berlin Airlift.
Gordon was ordered on a 90 day TDY (temporary duty) to England. Grandma and Grandpa Ernst, my Mother, and I headed down to
Louisiana to pick up Lucille and bring her back to Port Huron, while Gordon was gone. Of course, the TDY was extended and
It was during this visit that I began to get to know Uncle Gordon. One of my prized possessions was a collection of keys. I had no
idea where the keys came from or what they might have been to sometime in the past. They were just keys that this eight-year-old
boy cherished. Uncle Gordon challenged me to a game of poker, and I lost all my keys. I was heart-broken. Of course, he returned
my keys to me before we left along with a stern reprimand about gambling.
After some number of months, Gordon returned and Lucille rejoined him at Barksdale. Shortly thereafter, the base was transferred
to the newly formed Strategic Air Command or SAC. TSgt Walker was offered an opportunity to cross-train from a Radio Mechanic to
a Nuclear Technician. He went to Sandia Base, NM in June 1949 for his training and returned to Barksdale. The next year, he was
promoted to Master Sergeant and reclassified as a Senior Munitions Specialist.
|TSgt & Mrs Gordon M. Walker
Gordon received orders to England
in October 1953. They spent
almost three years at RAF Brize
Norton. During that time, they
traveled extensively throughout
Western Europe. This was during
the time that the US Dollar was king
throughout the world and GIs could
live very well at overseas bases.
The Walkers returned to the US in
May 1956 and were assigned to the
Air Training Command at Lowery
AFB, Colorado, just outside Denver.
|Gordon and Lucille at Ciro's of Hollywood
|Patton Hotel, Garmish, Germany
At first, Gordon was a student at the Technical Instructor Training Course, and then he became an instructor at the Special Weapons
School. It was during his stay at Lowery that he was promoted to Senior Master Sergeant. It also during this assignment that Mom,
Fred, and I visited them and stayed with them in on-base quarters. I got to know Uncle Gordon even better during this visit and was
pretty impressed with Air Force life. Unbeknownst to me at that time, the AF career seed was obviously planted deep in my brain. It was
also during this visit, that I began writing to a cute girl back in Port Huron who I had not yet dated, but who had already captured my heart.
After a four year stint at Lowery, Gordon received orders to a Defense Atomic Support
Agency facility at Sandia Base, NM, arriving there in June 1960. This assignment
lasted only three months and in September 1960, they transferred to another DASA
facility at Medina Base, outside San Antonio, Texas. This was also a rather short
assignment and in Aug 1961, Gordon and Lucille went back to Barksdale, where they
remained until his retirement from the Air Force on 29 October 1968. Gordon was
promoted to Chief Master Sergeant during this stint at Barksdale.
During this assignment, Gordon and Lucille hosted several visits from the Purkiss
clan and literally pulled our bacon out of the fire on one occasion. In May 1963, we
were traveling from San Angelo, Texas up to Port Huron. Pixie was 8 months
pregnant and Jeff was about 16 month old. I was taking the family to Michigan so I
could go on a remote tour to Northern Japan. Our car broke down in Arkadelphia,
Arkansas. They drove from Barksdale to Arkadelphia and picked us up and took us
home while we waited for a part to fix our car. After almost two weeks without
receiving the part, Gordon took leave, rented a tow bar, and hauled us bag and
baggage up to Port Huron. I left for Japan about a week after our arrival and David
was born about a week after that.
|CMSgt Walker at his Retirement Ceremony
1 Dec 1968
After hanging up his blue uniform, Gordon accepted a job with Texas Instruments, near Dallas and he and Lucille bought a home in
Carrollton. When they moved there, I was living in Okinawa with our family. We returned to the States in summer of 1970 and we
stopped off at the Walkers enroute back to San Angelo, where I was to be an instructor in the Intelligence Officers Course at Goodfellow
AFB. During the next year that we were at San Angelo, we made trips to Carrollton and Gordon and Lucille made trips to San Angelo.
From summer of 71 to summer of 72, I was in Southeast Asia and the family went back to Port Huron. We returned to Texas, this time
San Antonio in 72, where we stayed for the next five years. Between our arrival in San Antonio, and the time that Gordon re-retired and
moved to Florida, we both made a number of trips up and down I-35. With all the visits we made during these years, Gordon and
Lucille became quasi-grandparents to our children.
Even though the visits back and forth after their move to Florida became less frequent, they didn’t stop and the relationship between our
families grew even closer. I think their last trip to see us was for Jeff’s wedding in 1984. Lucille took sick on the return trip to Florida
and I don’t think she traveled again.
Lucille passed away in 1994. Gordon began traveling and visited us
numerous times in Colorado. Then in 1999, Gordon had back surgery and it
was clear that he would have difficulty taking care of himself. Pixie flew to
Florida, put his house up for sale and had a giant garage sale, and we
brought Gordon back to Colorado with us. He stayed at our home while
convalescing and then moved into an independent living retirement facility
near our place. Most of our friends in Colorado were retired Air Force and
Gordon fit in perfectly with our group. He was invited to all the group’s
activities and bonded with everyone. I think that couple of years in Colorado
Springs was a happy time for Gordon.
|Gordon's 81st Birthday
Colorado Springs 2000
He took up golf near the end of his Air Force career and became quite good
at it, with three documented “holes-in-one”. Unfortunately after his back
surgery, he was never able to play again.
I re-retired in 2002; we moved back to San Antonio to be close to our kids and
and grandkids. Gordon had his belongings on the same moving van as ours and he moved into another retirement facility fairly close
to our new home, the same facility were my Mom had been living for about a year. He spent his remaining years trying to generate
interest at the retirement facility in current events (so he could engage someone in a spirited conversation), playing cards and other
games with friends there, and visiting our home often and enjoying our family.
Up until the very end, Gordon was interested in the world around him. His favorite TV channel was C-Span; his second favorite was the
Golf Channel. He stayed current in the national and international events around him and liked to engage people in conversations about
them. He loved to kid around with our grandkids, the same way he did me when I was young. And they enjoyed kidding with him also.
CMSgt Gordon M. Walker passed away on 24 November 2007. He was buried with full military
honors at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery.