Who is Walker?
By Airman John Day, 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 07, 2014
COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Many of the buildings, structures and streets at Columbus Air Force Base are dedicated to an outstanding Airman for their brave actions in the line of duty. The hangars on base are no exception.
Walker Center is a hangar near the flightline that serves many important purposes. One side of the hangar holds all the gear Airmen are issued when they prepare to deploy deploy and all the training materials provided for said deployments. This includes backpacks, chemical suits, masks, gloves, boots, sleeping bags and more.
The lower level has a civilian aircraft maintenance area and also issues and repairs pilot's helmets. The Base Honor Guard uses this lower level for storage and practice sessions. This area also includes the base armory.
This hangar was memorialized for 1st Lt. Quitman Walker, a Tuskegee pilot who paid the ultimate price for his country.
The Tuskegee Airmen were a group of nearly 1,000 black pilots and crewmembers who fought in World War II and helped break down the walls of racial segregation in the military. One notable Tuskegee Airmen was 1st Lt. Quitman Walker.
Walker was born June 21, 1919 in Tillman, Miss. and went to the public schools in Indianola, Miss. His last year of high school was spent at the Cohoma County Training School near Clarksdale.
After his high school graduation in 1937, Walker continued his education at Alcorn A&M College, now Alcorn State University, and in 1941 received a bachelor's degree in Science. He left for California to find a job, but ended up enlisting in the U.S. Army and was sent to Tuskegee, Ala. for pilot training.
Walker graduated from pilot training and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army Air Corps. After additional flight training and a transfer to Selfridge Army Air Field in Michigan, Walker was sent overseas. He was assigned to the 332nd Fighter Group.
For two years he flew a P-51D Mustang that he named The Coordinator.
His 29th mission would prove to be his last. On Nov. 19, 1944, Walker and 1st Lt. Robert Gaither were returning from a mission in Hungary when they were attacked by enemy forces. Gaither's plane was hit by enemy fire. He ejected before his aircraft crashed and was able to avoid detection by enemy forces for four days before being captured.
Walker, however, suffered a different fate. Walker was never heard from again and was reported missing-in-action. Less than a year later, Walker's status was changed to killed-in-action.
For his bravery and sacrifice, Walker was awarded The Purple Heart, The Distinguished Flying Cross, and The Air Medal with Three Oak Leaf Clusters. Of all the Tuskegee Airmen, Walker was the first one born in Mississippi to die for his country.