“The Best Company” at the S.C. Military History Foundation
“It was God, adrenaline, and my 24-year-old eyesight that enabled me to see with no light, in that order.” ~ 1LT Frank Walker – Pilot (Rescue) ~ “The Rescue of Lady Ace – 11 Jul 1972” by Rex Gooch
The S.C. Military History Foundation Board is a charitable organization that aims to preserve the rich military history of South Carolina. I am honored to have been recently approved as one of its newest members, finding myself in the best company!
I’d worked with most of the board members in the S.C. National Guard and admired them all. Col. (Ret) Dale Ellenburg and I worked together from my early service as a Lieutenant in the 111th Signal Battalion, Greenwood, S.C. Maj. Gen. Laurie Newton was the Deputy Brigade Commander of the 218th eSB during a rotation to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California in 2000. I worked in Class IX (repair parts), and he stopped by regularly to check on the status of the repair parts. Col. (Ret) Madison Dye and I have been friends for a long time, and we worked together at the end of our careers when he was the Chief of Staff. I met Chaplain Col. (Ret) Herbert Gough towards the end of my career.
The National Guard is like family. You get to know and work with many phenomenal people. How could it be possible that I didn’t know the person whose incredible story is revealed here?
Lt. Col. (Ret) Frank Walker is the only person I didn’t know, but at my first board meeting in December 2022, I began hearing about his courageous actions in the Republic of Vietnam.
The narrative of the daring rescue mission, recounted from eyewitness statements, had me on the edge of my seat and filled with emotion.
Frank Walker was deployed to Vietnam in 1972, like many others in his generation. As a 1st Lieutenant there, he faced the defining moment in his career as a pilot. A daring rescue mission would challenge his abilities and bravery beyond their limits, securing his thought that he was not alone.
“It was like someone else landed the Loach for me-and I believe Someone else did land it for me.” ~ Frank Walker (Rescue)
The story was published in the December 2014 issue of Flight Journal and on the website “Centaurs of Vietnam 1966-1973.” at the link below.
I spoke with Lt. Col. Walker about his experiences, and he humbly shared that coming under enemy fire was a daily occurrence in Vietnam. But military leaders felt this daring rescue was worthy of the highest award.
Walker and the other rescue helicopter pilot, Frederick D. Ledfors, were recommended for the Medal of Honor for their brave actions during the rescue. However, the Department of the Army awarded them the Distinguished Service Cross, the second-highest award.
We often ponder what our actions would be in similar circumstances. Perhaps Walker’s quote explains how a person faces mortal danger without a second thought.
“We never hesitated. We flew the night rescue because we realized our fellow soldiers were stranded inside enemy territory, and their chances for survival were slim if we didn’t get them out. Bringing back those Marines was worth the risk!” ~ Frank Walker (Rescue)
Read the story here. The Rescue of Lady Ace – 11 July 1972 by Rex Gooch
“In July 2008, the Army National Guard of South Carolina named a weapons range at Columbia’s Fort Jackson the “1st Lt. Wesley F. Walker Range” in recognition of Frank Walker’s status as one of the highest decorated soldiers to retire from the South Carolina National Guard since World War II.” ~ Centaurs of Vietnam 1966-1973.
ABC News 4 (WCIV-TV) shared the story on November 17th, 2016.
Heroes Among Us: Lt. Frank Walker by Ashley Blackstone
At a recent meeting, Lt. Col. Walker stepped down from the chairman position of the S.C. Military History Foundation. Fortunately, he will continue to serve as the past board chairman for an additional year. Maj. Gen. Newton, the incoming board chairman, presented Walker with a plaque and the S.C. Military Foundation Challenge Coin to recognize his service as Chairman.
Two boards support the S.C. Military Museum.
S.C. Military History Foundation
“The S.C. Military History Foundation acquires memorabilia, funds, or endowed funds to benefit the S.C. Military Museum or other military historical, charitable, or educational institutions under section 501 (c) (3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.” ~ S.C. Military History Foundation ByLaws
S.C. Military Museum Board
“The S.C. Military Museum preserves and celebrates the legacy of the Palmetto State’s rich military history by cultivating community interest and inspiring future Carolinians through exhibitions, research, and public outreach. The Museum boasts the state’s largest land-based collection of firearms and military vehicles, representing technological innovations in military science over the past five centuries, from Colonial times to the Present. Artifacts, including weapons, vehicles, and artillery, are displayed pristine in an exemplary museum environment.” ~ S.C. Military Museum
Take a look at the links! The Museum offers a plethora of exciting activities and is seeking volunteers.
Recruiting Volunteers at the S.C. Military Museum
Thank you to Jacqueline Banton, Admin Secretary at the S.C. Military Museum, for assisting the board during the recent meeting. She’s a shining star, making a difference!
I look forward to working with the S.C. History Foundation Board members and the full-time staff at the S.C. Military Museum.
The featured image of the H-13B Sioux Helicopter is courtesy of the S.C. Military Museum.
The South Carolina Military Department does not support or take responsibility for the accuracy or content of this information.