On the morning of January 5, 1943, six Boeing B-17 “Flying Fortress” and six Consolidated B-24 “Liberator” heavy bombers departed from the Port Moresby airfield complex in New Guinea. Their task is to attack an enemy convoy believed to be heading for the Japanese military base at Rabaul, New Britain. Kenneth Newton Walker, Brigadier General of the U.S. Army Air Forces, Commander of the 5th Bomber, boarded the lead B-17, piloted by Major Allen Lindbergh. After reaching Rabaul at 12:00 pm, the bomb group successfully attacked nine Japanese ships.
However, as the formation left its target, it was attacked by a squadron of Japanese fighters. According to a message from the 5th Air Force, the B-17 Walker was boarding was located just east of Vunakanau, about south-southwest of Raubal. It was last observed heading 10 miles, at an altitude of about 5,000 feet. Its “left outboard” [was] Despite being “chased thoroughly” by four to five enemy fighters, he was smoking, but later appeared to be fine. brig. However, General Walker and the rest of his crew never returned from the mission, and 11 aviators were listed as missing after several searches proved unsuccessful. The entire crew was then reclassified as killed in action.
Kenneth Newton Walker was born in Cerillos, New Mexico on July 17, 1898 and enlisted in the U.S. Army in December 1917. Walker attended flight training at the University of California’s Military Aviation School and at Motherfield, near Sacramento, California. Upon receiving his wings in November 1918, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant (temporary) in the Army Air Corps. He then attended the Flight Instructor School in Brooksfield, San Antonio, Texas, Brooks and Burren, Texas, and Fort Hesill, Oklahoma, where he served as a flight instructor for three years.
In December 1922, as a lieutenant, Walker went to the Philippines as head of the Air Intelligence Section at Camp Nichols. Three years later, he returned to the United States as a member of the Air Service Commission in Langley Field, Virginia. At Langley, he served as Adjutant of 59th Service Squadron, Commander of 11th Bomb Squadron, and Chief of Operations for 2nd Bomb Group. In June 1929 he moved to Maxwell, Alabama. graduated from He was promoted to Captain in August 1933 and Major in October of the same year.
While an artillery instructor, Walker created what became known as the “Bomber Creed.” According to Air Force historian Michael Robert Patterson, Walker believed that “the Air Force would provide an innovative means of forcing the enemy to surrender without first defeating enemy ground forces.” This concept has become a doctrine followed by many Air Force generals over the years.
Walker also participated in research on low-level bombing accuracy. As Patterson explains, Walker “found that targeting was more accurate at low altitudes, while ricochets and other factors reduced damage. We learned that dropped bombs do more damage.” As a result, Walker and three ACTS colleagues created AWDP-Plan 1. This became the blueprint for bombing Germany once the United States entered World War II. With war threatening the United States, Walker was promoted to lieutenant colonel and soon to colonel.
During World War II, Walker was promoted to brigadier general and transferred to the Southwest Pacific, where he served as commander of 5th Bomb Command, 5th Air Force from September 1942 until his death on January 5, 1943. . , brig. General Walker was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Roosevelt in 1943.
In addition to the Medal of Honor, Brig. General Kenneth Walker has also been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Legion of Merit and Purple Heart. In January 1948, Roswell Army Air Field in Roswell, New Mexico was designated Walker Air Force Base in his honor. Walker Hall at Maxwell Air Force Base is home to the College of Aerospace Doctrine, Research, and Education and is named after General Walker.
Brigadier General Kenneth Walker’s Medal of Honor Quote:
“For outstanding leadership above and beyond the call of duty with personal courage and bravery at the risk of life. As Air Command Commander, General Brig. On 5 January 1943, in the face of very heavy anti-aircraft fire and resolute opposition from enemy fighters, he launched his attack on the island of New Britain. He conducted an effective daylight bombardment against ships in the harbor of Rabaul, inflicting direct hits on nine enemy ships. It was incapacitated and forced to crash.”