Lt. Quitman C. Walker's service medals, including his Purple Heart, were issued nearly 60 years after they were awarded.
Walker of Indianola, Miss., graduated from flight training on Jan. 14, 1943, at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama. He deployed to North Africa with the http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/military/article_a4964038-5d31-11df-bb80-0017a4a78c22.html"> 99th Fighter Squadron in April. The squadron flew its first combat mission on June 2, then moved to Italy on July 28. Nearly a year later, the 99th Fighter Squadron joined the http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/military/article_88ff70c8-5d2d-11df-ac8c-0017a4a78c22.html"> 332nd Fighter Group at Ramitelli Air Field, where it was stationed for the rest of the war.
The 332nd Fighter Group was sent on a strafing mission in Hungary and Austria on Nov. 19, 1944. Pilots from the 99th Fighter Squadron destroyed 15 horse-drawn vehicles and wagons, and damaged 100 more horse-drawn vehicles, two locomotives, 40 wagons and 10 trucks. During a pass over a river, Lt. Roger B. Gaiter's http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/military/article_58819372-5e3b-11df-94bd-00127992bc8b.html"> P-51 Mustang was hit by anti-aircraft fire, and was shot down. On the way back to Ramitelli, Walker's plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire near Lake Balaton, Hungary.
"Lt. Q.C. Walker was just behind me at approximately 6,000 feet," 1st Lt. Emile G. Clifton Jr. wrote in a military report. "We ran into concentrated flak. I looked behind me just in time to see Lt. Walker make a sharp turn to the east; that was the last I saw of him. I made two 360-degree turns and called him several times on the radio with no results."
Gaiter evaded Nazi soldiers for four days before http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/military/article_e11815c8-6910-11df-a73e-00127992bc8b.html"> he was captured; Walker was http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/military/article_984093a8-691e-11df-a907-00127992bc8b.html"> not heard from again.
Walker is buried at the http://www.stltoday.com/news/html_a997287a-83c1-11df-b7a2-0017a4a78c22.html"> Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial in Belgium. In 1995, a hanger at http://www.columbus.af.mil/">Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., was named The Walker Center in his honor.
Although Walker was awarded a http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/military/article_5b76aa1a-68f7-11df-81cc-00127992bc8b.html"> Distinguished Flying Cross, an http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/military/article_6042c1e6-68f2-11df-bdfc-00127992bc8b.html"> Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, and a http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/military/article_ef074262-685c-11df-b9d7-0017a4a78c22.html"> Purple Heart for his military service, some of the medals were not issued after he died. In 2004, nearly 60 years after Walker was reported missing, four medals, including his Purple Heart and campaign medals, were issued to Walker's nephew, Donald Walker, by Maj. Gen. Harold A. Cross.