color: SOME SOLDIER'S MOM: Memorial Day 2006: CDR Kirk T. Walsh

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Memorial Day 2006: CDR Kirk T. Walsh

CDR Kirk T. Walsh
12Jan37 - 10May06
CDR Kirk T. Walsh was a survivor. Scarlet fever at age 5, a broken neck from a diving accident at 17, three crash landings as a naval aviator in Vietnam, one in which a helicopter blade punctured a windshield and slashed his throat, a heart attack on a helicopter training flight, forcing him to make an emergency landing. A stroke at 58.
After graduation from the University of Colorado with a degree in Political Science, Kirk Walsh was commissioned an Officer in 1962 and enjoyed a 20-year career as a naval aviator -- flying aircraft including the Huey and Cobra helicopters and serving two tours in Vietnam.

During the Vietnam War, Cmdr. Walsh earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, a Bronze Star with a combat V, 33 Air Medals for combat missions, a Navy Commendation Medal and two Presidential Unit citations.

He declined to accept a Purple Heart after being injured during a mission while serving as commander of a Marine flight squadron, believing that he couldn’t in good conscience accept the award because so many others had lost so much more. Despite his injury, Cmdr. Walsh helped his crew evade capture for nearly 24 hours until they were rescued.

In November 1969, Walsh was serving as aircraft commander and fire team leader of an armed helicopter detachment. When his base at Vinh Gia came under heavy attack, Cmdr. Walsh led a dash from a bunker to his aircraft. The citation for his Distinguished Flying Cross states that, “Subsequent devastating rocket and machine gun runs destroyed three enemy firing positions and probably a fourth. and “His immediate and decisive reaction to the enemy attack was instrumental in preventing severe damage to the support base and in lessening personnel casualties.”

After his Naval career, CDR Walsh, a recovering alcoholic himself, served as a substance abuse counselor and later as an ombudsman volunteer for Aging and Independence Services in conjunction with his county's Health and Human Services Agency. He also developed a partnership with the Veterans Administration to serve veterans through a homeless outreach program and was instrumental in starting "Stand Down", a program in Balboa Park that has provided shelter and services for homeless veterans for 18 years.
Kirk Walsh was diagnosed with lung cancer in December, a decade after he quit smoking, and died of a heart attack May 10 at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center. He was 69.

Job well done, Commander. Bravo Zulu.


At 5/29/2006 8:06 AM , Blogger RebeccaMcCormick said...

We're on the same wavelength today. At the McCormicks, we're only 10 days away from our son's wedding--and that's a LOT different from this day last year.

At 5/29/2006 10:45 AM , Blogger elmers brother said...

God rest his soul. What a testament to an overcomer and hero.

At 5/29/2006 7:04 PM , Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Great tribute, thanks for sharing his story with the rest of us.

At 6/22/2006 4:15 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing about my Dad.
-Judy Walsh-Jackson

At 6/22/2006 12:07 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Dad has been through a lot and I know he would be embarrassed over the fuss. But he truly was a hero and an inspiration to us all. Thank you for sharing his story, so even in death, he could still give us all hope. ~Stephanie Walsh

At 6/22/2006 12:26 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband for nearly 43 years; father of five children--including a son who died at age 9; grand-father to six children; devout Roman Catholic; sober, recovering alcoholic for 27 years; active volunteer in many areas, including Toastmasters; immensely proud of family and of the United States of America! Thanks for posting re Kirk T. Walsh. --Kay Walsh


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