Walter B. Waldon was born in 1919 in Detroit, Michigan. He spent most of his growing-up years in a Michigan farming family that lived through the great depression. When he turned 21 years old he joined the Army, entering service on August 6, 1940. Walter says, I didnt go through any basic and advanced training, they just shipped me to the West Coast and I was assigned directly into the mortar section of Weapons Platoon, Company L, 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Lewis Washington. He remembers that the next year he was back home on leave when Pearl Harbor was attacked bringing America into World War II.
After a period of intensive preparation for combat, the 3rd Infantry Division moved by train from Fort Ord, California to a staging area at Camp Pickett, Virginia. They took ship from Virginia and were formed up in a 39-vessel convoy carrying 35,000 men of the Western Task Force directly into the November 8, 1942 invasion landing in North Africa as part of Operation Torch. After quickly securing Casablanca and then fighting throughout the North African Campaign, Walters unit ended up in the Spring of 1943 in Tunis separating enemy prisoners. Next, in July 1943, the 3rd Infantry Division was part of the invasion landing in Sicily and Walter talks of his experiences in the capture of Palermo, the largest city on the island, and the move up the coast toward Mount Etna. After securing Sicily, the 3rd Infantry Division took part in the September 9, 1943 assault landing at Salerno on mainland Italy. By this time Walter was a Scout in Company L as the U.S. forces fought their way north. At the Volturno River line Walter was wounded by a tree burst of a German 88mm shell. After treatment on a Hospital Ship he was medically evacuated to the 118th Station Hospital near Bizerte in North Africa.
Walter Waldon returned to duty in Company L just in time for the assault landing at Anzio in January 1944. After the breakout in May and during the fighting during the drive north, Walter was again hospitalized, this time for back injuries. He was first evacuated back to England and then returned to the U.S. on points. He was hospitalized at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. When the war ended Walter was training German Prisoners of War, still at Fort Benjamin Harrison. He was discharged later in 1945.
Recalled to active duty for the Korean War, Walter served as an Infantry instructor at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He got out of the Army again after the Korean War, but this time only briefly. He then served in Aircraft Maintenance for the remainder of his career. Senior Maintenance Sergeant Waldon was in the MACV Flight Detachment at Long Than (near Bear Cat) when the TET-68 fighting hit those facilities, but fortunately Walter did not qualify for another Purple Heart in Vietnam. Walter Waldon retired from the Army in San Antonio, Texas in 1974 with 29 years service. He lives in La Vernia, Texas and frequents the VA Outpatient Clinic in Austin. His visits to the Purple Heart refreshment cart at the clinic introduced him to the Military Order of the Purple Heart. Chapter 1919 signed him up and now proudly features his story in PATRIOT BULLETIN.
Walter Waldon provided this Purple Heart story for publication in the October 2001 issue of PATRIOT BULLETIN. Walter passed away in March 2006.