Visit the Red Tail Virtual Museum to see the Walker Center, building 1030, is dedicated to First Lieutenant Quitman C. Walker.
Quitman 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 on April 25, 1942. He graduated from flight training on January 14, 1943 at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama. He was posted to North Africa with the 99th Fighter Squadron in April 1943.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 when the 332nd Fighter Group was sent on a strafing mission in Hungary and Austria on Nov. 19, 1944. Pilots from the 99th Fighter Squadron destroyed 15 horse-drawn vehicles and wagons, and damaged 100 more horse-drawn vehicles, two locomotives, 40 wagons and 10 trucks. During a pass over a river, Lt. Roger B. Gaiter’s P-51 Mustang was hit by anti-aircraft fire, and was shot down. On the way back to Ramitelli, Walker’s plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire near Lake Balaton, Hungary.
“Lt. Q.C. Walker was just behind me at approximately 6,000 feet,” 1st Lt. Emile G. Clifton Jr. wrote in a military report. “We ran into concentrated flak. I looked behind me just in time to see Lt. Walker make a sharp turn to the east; that was the last I saw of him. I made two 360-degree turns and called him several times on the radio with no results.”
Gaiter evaded Nazi soldiers for four days before he was captured; Walker was not heard from again.
However, his remains were recovered at some later point and he was buried at the Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial in Belgium. In 1995, a hanger at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., was named The Walker Center in his honor.
Although Walker was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross, an Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, and a Purple Heart for his military service, some of the medals were not issued after he died. In 2004, nearly 60 years after Walker was reported missing, four medals, including his Purple Heart and campaign medals, were issued to Walker’s nephew, Donald Walker, by Maj. Gen. Harold A. Cross.
Visit our Virtual Museum to see the posting of Memorializations On Columbus AFB, Mississippi
Thank you to Zellie Orr for submitting her research that verified another Airman, Lt. Wellington G. Irving of Belzoni, was Mississippi’s “first” black WWII military aviator killed in combat.
It was due to my research that I located Lt. Walker’s burial site overseas and procured for his family all military medals, ribbons, etc. (posthumously), he merited. I was invited to the 2004 ceremony and was one of the guest speakers.
At the time, Lt. Walker of Indianola, was the “first known” Mississippi Tuskegee Airman KIA. However, since that time, my research has unearthed info denoting Lt. Wellington G. Irving of Belzoni, was Mississippi’s “first” black WWII military aviator killed in combat.
Lt. Walker’s aircraft was downed by enemy flak in November 1944; Lt. Irving’s aircraft was shot down by enemy aircraft in July 1944. Thus, Lt. Irving paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom 4-months earlier. Both pilots were flying P-51 Mustangs.
In February of 1995 a hangar, “The Walker Center”, was named in his honor at Columbus Air Force Base (Mississippi).
On May 9, 2003, during a ceremony held in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Lt. Walker was awarded the university’s second highest honor- posthumous induction in Alcorn University’s Hall of Fame.
Concurrently in May 2003, the U. S. Army posthumously issued three additional awards due Lt. Walker…The European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal With 1 Bronze Service Star, The World War II Victory Medal, and The Honorable Service Lapel Button WWII. They were sent to his eldest sibling in California.
In November 2003, the U.S. Army authorized and issued posthumously in Lt. Quitman C. Walker’s honor The American Campaign Medal, including reissuing The Purple Heart w/Bar and Ribbon.
In March 2004, Columbus AFB held an event that honored the Mississippi Tuskegee Airmen. On the base a street was dedicated in their honor, along with a building designated the Quitman C. Walker Center, in honor of Mississippi’s first Tuskegee Airman killed in combat.