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Walsh, Kenneth A.

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Lieutenant Colonel, USMC, (1916-1998)

Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth A. Walsh, USMC, (1916-1998)

Kenneth Ambrose Walsh was born on 24 November 1916 in Brooklyn, New York. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps from that state in December 1933. After recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina, he was ordered to the Marine Corps Base at Quantico, Virginia, where he served as an aviation mechanic and radioman. Completing flight training at Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida in April 1937, he served in scout and observation aircraft, including duty on board the aircraft carriers Yorktown, Wasp, and Ranger. During this time, Walsh was promoted to Master Technical Sergeant. He attained the rank of Gunner in May 1942, while serving with Marine Aircraft Group Twelve (MAG-12) at San Francisco, California. That September, he transferred to Marine Fighting Squadron One Hundred Twenty Four (VMF-124) and, in October, was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. Relocating to the south Pacific war zone in January 1943, he was promoted in June to First Lieutenant.

During 15-30 August 1943, Walsh participated in aerial combat against the Japanese over the Central Solomon Islands. On two separate missions against superior numbers of Japanese aircraft, he was credited with downing seven enemy bombers and fighters. During the last of these fights, on 30 August, he was forced to ditch his damaged plane off Vella Lavella Island, but was rescued. For his "extreme heroism and intrepidity" on these occasions, he was awarded the Medal of Honor. Returning to the U.S. in October 1943, he was ordered to Headquarters Marine Corps. In January 1944, he was stationed at Naval Air Operational Training Command at Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida and was promoted a month later to Captain. Departing again for the Pacific in April 1945, he participated in the Okinawa campaign with Marine Fighting Squadron Two Hundred Twenty Two (VMF-222) and later served with Marine Aircraft Group Fourteen (MAG-14). He ended World War II as the Marine Corps' fourth-ranking ace, credited with the destruction of 21 enemy planes.

In March 1946, Walsh was assigned to the Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics. Between January and July 1949, he served with First Marine Aircraft Wing, Fleet Marine Force at El Toro, California. After training at the Marine Corps Air Station at Quantico, he received orders to Marine Aircraft Group Twenty-Five (MAG-25), with which he had Korean War duty in 1950-1951. Captain Walsh returned to El Toro after his Far Eastern tour. In April 1952, he arrived at Norfolk, Virginia to serve on the staff of Commander Air Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. Promoted to Major in April 1955, he was assigned that September to the Third Marine Aircraft Wing at El Toro and in October 1958 received promotion to Lieutenant Colonel. In January 1959, he was sent to the First Marine Aircraft Wing for Maintenance Officer duty. During the following spring he returned to the Third Marine Aircraft Wing for service with Marine Transport Squadron Three Hundred Fifty-Two (VMR-352). In October 1961, Lieutenant Colonel Walsh was transferred to the Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Wing Service Group Thirty-Seven (MWSG-37). He retired from the Marine Corps in January 1962. Kenneth A. Walsh died on 30 July 1998 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.