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Triple “Service” for Lubbock Man

Lawrence (Larry) Walker of Lubbock spent nearly 50 years “serving” his country. Born in New York City on March 11, 1930, he was the only child of Harry and Lee Ann Walker.  This was the Great Depression Era, and Larry’s father soon moved his family west to California when Larry was only a few weeks old. Harry eventually found work as the Maintenance Manager at the Hollywood Park Racetrack. Larry attended Hollywood High. 

Volunteering for the Navy in March of 1947, Larry took his basic training in San Diego, California. He was assigned to the USS Furse (DD-882), a Navy destroyer, in August of 1947 and would head for the Far East in September 1947. After a one week stopover in Honolulu, the ship sailed to its Japanese home base of Yokosuka. Acting as an occupation force after WWII, the ship cruised to Hong Kong, Midway, Wake Island, Marshall Islands, Guam, Philippines, Korea and back to Japan. Larry, a Seaman, “did all duties required of him” during these voyages. 

The Furse was transferred to the Atlantic Fleet in early April 1949 by way of the Panama Canal and arrived for duty at Newport, Rhode Island on April 21, 1949. Assigned to the 6th Fleet, she sailed for Mediterranean duty in September 1949. Half way through this tour of duty, things were about to change for Seaman Walker. He was transferred to Great Lakes Naval Station near North Chicago, Illinois. The Naval Station was founded in 1911 and is the largest training center in the Navy. Here, Larry would embark on a 12 week medical training school.  He would be assigned as a Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class to a naval hospital in Oakland, California.  

Larry married Jean Claire in 1951.  They had three children, 2 girls and 1 boy.  They would divorce in 1980.  He was transferred to the USS Kearsarge (CVA 33), one of 24 Essex class aircraft carriers built at the end of WWII.  In August 1952, the Kearsarge stopped in Hawaii for a few days.  She sailed for the Far East and landed in Yokosuka, Japan in September and joined Task Force 77 off the east cost of Korea.  During the next 5 months the carrier’s planes flew nearly 6,000 sorties against Communist forces in North Korea inflicting heavy damage on enemy positions.  While onboard the ship, Walker worked in sick bay and assisted during surgeries.  When the ship returned to San Diego in 1954, she was used in the filming of the movie The Caine Mutiny.  The Kearsarge substituted for Admiral Halsey’s ship during WWII. Larry recalled watching them film the movie and seeing several movie stars such as Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Fred MacMurray and Van Johnson.  Some of the crew became extras in the movie.  Larry Walker had a Hollywood connection – his uncle was the venerable actor, Walter Pidgeon. 

Walker transferred to Alameda Naval Air Station in 1956.  Leaving the Navy in March 1957, he noted that he was “tired of being on the water and gone for long periods of time.”  Four days later he joined the U.S. Air Force enlisting as an Airman 1st Class.  Due to his medical training in the Navy, Larry continued his work in the medical field. His assignments took him to Norton AFB in California, Ramey AFB in Puerto Rico then Columbus AFB in Mississippi and he was TDY to Southeast Asia for 180 days.   He transferred to Laughlin AFB in Texas where he worked in the flight surgeon’s office and flew as a medic aboard a Kaman HH43 Huskie search and rescue helicopter.  He retired from the Air Force as a Master Sergeant in March 1977 after 30 years of combined military service.  He was awarded numerous ribbons and medals such as the Japanese Occupation, Korean Service, United Nations, China Service, Meritorious Service, Air Force Commendation, Air Force Longevity, National Defense and Good Conduct. His service, however, was not over.  He joined the Civil Service in 1974 and continued working at Laughlin for 9 years.  He met Dianna Brewer who had three children, 2 boys and 1 girl from a previous marriage.  She was working at Laughlin hospital and they married in September 1981.  They moved in 1983 when Larry transferred to Reese AFB in Lubbock. His “service” to his country finally ended after 49 years when Larry retired for the final time in 1993.  He continues to work on the Texas South Plains Honor Flight Committee along with his wife Dianna.

Larry noted that he “would like to be remembered as a great husband, father and grandfather to their blended family of 6 children, 7 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren.”  He should also be remembered for his patriotism and a lifetime of service to his country.

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