NEW CANAAN, Conn. — An 84-year-old New Canaan man wants the remains of his father, a hero from World War II, found and brought home — nearly 75 years after he went missing during a bombing run over a remote island in the South Pacific.
U.S. Army Air Forces Brig. Gen. Kenneth Walker, who was 44 and received the Medal of Honor, is the highest-ranking officer still listed as missing from World War II.
Now his son Douglas Walker is joining forces with U.S. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) to find the crash site of the San Antonio Rose B-17 Flying Fortress and its crew, who were subsequently declared killed in action.
"It’s been 75 years and these men, the plane and my father are still out there and we need to get a search started. One way or another that has got to occur in the near term," Walker said.
On Friday — the eve of Veterans Day — Blumenthal met with Douglas Walker at Woolsey Hall Rotunda at Yale University to announce a bipartisan Senate resolution urging a search for the lost B-17 and its men.
The San Antonio Rose was last sighted under heavy attack from Japanese fighters near what is now Papua New Guinea on Jan. 5, 1943.
“As the nation pauses Saturday to recognize the service and sacrifice of those who have lost their lives defending our country, the crew of the San Antonio Rose must never be forgotten. We must honor their memory through continuing this search to fulfill our nation’s promise to finally bring these heroes home,” Blumenthal said.
“I am deeply grateful to Senator Blumenthal and his staff and the additional support from others members of the Senate who agreed that this is an issue that needs to be elevated in the public and government’s mind," said Walker, who wants to get the search started. "This resolution is a vitally important step in making that happen."
Blumenthal and U.S. Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) led a bipartisan coalition of senators in introducing a resolution to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the tragic loss of the San Antonio Rose. The resolution seeks to honor the memory of the crew lost by pledging to continue the search to finally bring them home.
The San Antonio Rose left Port Moresby, New Guinea, to lead a bombing run on ships at Rabaul, New Britain (now Papua New Guinea), and break up a major Japanese reinforcement convoy.
Walker was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for repeatedly accompanying units of the Army Air Forces that he commanded on dangerous bombing missions.
He went down on the plane with 10 other men. Two bailed out but later died in captivity; Walker and the eight others were declared killed in action. But the plane has never been found, and the men are still missing in action.
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